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 www.ecclesiadei.nl / documenten / Statistical evaluation of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands / Evaluation

Statistical evaluation of the
Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands

by ir. J.P. Oostveen


This study, based on the overall statistical data, shows the developments in the Roman Catholic Church in The Netherlands quantitatively.

  1. Comparing the result of the simulation of the development of the population of the active priests published in 1985 with the development analyzed before, it can be seen that there is not any positive policy effect at all.
    Within a few years the total active priesthood will be decreased to less then 1000 priests and at longer term, so about 2010 the priesthood will be deccreased to about 750 priests.
  2. Although some bishops have founded their own seminaries again, which only shows a rather small positive effect, there is already such a loss of baptize cohort during the last part of the primary as well as the secondary school that hardly a vocation can grow.
    Taking into account a delay of 19 years as to the baptize cohort, the future vocations are related to the generations which have been born after 1980. Related to this not only a continuous decrease of the number of baptizes can be observed, but also a relative greater decrease of confirmations, which is about 7 years before the normal age of vocation. Therefore it can be expected that there will hardly be a growth of the number of vocations and ordinations in the near future.
  3. If nothing changes the amount of baptized Roman Catholic faithful will decrease strongly in the near future, because of the death of the older faithful and the loss of baptize cohort together with the strong decrease of the number of baptizes in the last few decades. In order to the observed participation of the faithful only 10 to 20% or even less will be left in 2015 probably.
  4. Although the simulations show this phenomenon is a process in terms of generations in which short term effects cannot be expected, it should be possible to turn the disastrous tendencies, by:
    • In spite of the good and well willing priests left, in fact the Netherlands has became a missionary area, a lot of missionary priests has to be stimulated to come to the Netherlands in short term.
    • As soon as possible real Catholic schools in which vocations can grow, stimulated by really Catholic teachers, has to be founded
  5. Because of the long term effect of this phenomenon the above mentioned actions has to be started as soon as possible. Waiting and discussions how to handle makes the situation in the Netherlands more and more serious and at least there will be no solution at all.