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As we recently noted, many Catholics who do not believe in the Real Presence are unaware that the Church teaches the Real Presence.

This appears to be a misunderstanding that is much more common among those who entered the faith as infants and children.

Some will join in the coming week as the Catholic Church in the United States will welcome more than 100,000 new adult Catholics into the faith through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

There aren’t a lot of data sets available to study this sub-group. Hoge’s Converts, Dropouts, Returnees: A Study of Religious Change Among Catholics (1981). that estimated 75% of adult converts came to the Church through an interfaith marriage.

As shown below, eight in ten adult converts (81%) believe in the Real Presence compared to only 55% of all other Catholics.

Why would adult converts be more knowledgeable and believing than other Catholics?

No other factors appear to be as important as marriage and liking the faith.Catholic converts turn out to be very unique among Americans who convert to another religion or to no affiliation.Very few other “switchers” cite marriage as being an important reason for their conversion.As shown in the table below, the total number of adults entering the Catholic faith from 1993 to 2011 numbers 2.7 million—nearly the same size as the entire Presbyterian Church U. However, just as fewer babies has led to fewer infant baptisms, the fewer marriages occurring in the U. As shown below, among the top 15 dioceses with the highest rates of conversion (i.e., Catholics per convert in a three-year period; to control for differences in the sizes of dioceses and year-to-year fluctuations) are 12 dioceses in the Census Bureaus’ South region. In Steubenville (OH) there are 20 Catholics per convert.The next closest dioceses are at 47 Catholics per convert (Tulsa, OK; Owensboro, KY; and Birmingham, AL).When it comes to conversions, the “Francis Effect” may not result in much. If you are a single Catholic consider dating a non-Catholic and see where things go!They could end up being a better Catholic than you are.Many who leave the Catholic Church to become unaffiliated say they just “gradually drifted away” and those who leave for a Protestant denomination most often say their “spiritual needs were not being met” (pg. Only 13% of former Catholics cite marriage to someone who is not Catholic as being an important reason for their conversion to another faith or having no religious affiliation.About one in ten adults (11%) we have surveyed in-pew at Masses nationally identify themselves as Catholic converts (source: Views from the Pews: Parishioner Evaluations of Parish Life in the United States).Perhaps it was the eight months to a year they spent studying intensively in an RCIA program?As Pew has noted, “Those who have left Catholicism outnumber those who have joined the Catholic Church by nearly a four-to-one margin” (..include minors who convert to Catholicism). The Church could gain more converts, similar to many Protestant denominations, if it lowered the requirements of entry.

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