Monday, February 05, 2024

Switzerland: Number of People “Without Religion” Surpass Catholics

Picture Switzerland Flag Cross 1920x1080

The Swiss Institute of Pastoral Sociology (SPI) publishes statistics each year on the Catholic Church and religions in Switzerland. 

The latest publication reports on “the religious affiliation of the Swiss population” and shows that the number of people “without religion” exceeded the number of Catholics in 2022.

Those “without religion” reached 33.5% of the Swiss population in 2022, while Catholics only represent 32.1%. Reformed Evangelicals number only 20.5%. 

Muslims have become the third religious community in Switzerland with 5.9%.

Catholics represented 46.7% in 1970, while those “without religion” represented only 1.2%. The latter rose to 11.4% in 2000. Thus, in just over 50 years, the percentage of Catholics in the population has decreased by almost 15%. 

As for those without religion, their percentage multiplied by 10 in 30 years, then by 3 during the following 20 years.

The decrease in the number of Catholics is due in particular to “exits from the Church” which reached 20,000 in 2010 and exceeded 35,000 in 2022. This number may be significantly exceeded in 2023. 

But the overall decrease has been tempered by the immigration of Catholics, according to the statistical office.

As for Reformed Evangelicals, they have declined even more than Catholics over the last 50 years: they represented 48.8% of the Swiss population in 1970, so they have lost around 30% in 52 years.

During these 52 years, the Swiss population increased from 6,181,000 inhabitants in 1970 to 8,738,791 in 2022. Thus there were 2,088,000 Catholics in the country in 1970 and 2,083,000 in 2022, or roughly the same number. 

In other words, deaths and departures from the Church cancel out births, conversions, and immigration of Catholics over this period.

This secularization corresponds to the years after the Second Vatican Council which, in this country, has not welcomed the expected springtime. 

But the figures do not tell everything. 

The loss of Catholic references is profound among many of those who still declare themselves as such, and it can be affirmed that their beliefs and references are closer to Protestantism than to Catholicism.