‘It’s fake news’ – Czech cardinal says census data on Catholics leaving Church isn’t accurate

A woman prays during a mass celebrated at Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
By Lucie Ctverakova
3 Min Read

Fewer people in the Czech Republic profess a faith, according to the first results of last year’s census published by the Czech Statistical Office. The Roman Catholic Church has lost almost a third of the faithful in the last decade or more than 340,000.

However, the data has its detractors. Cardinal and Archbishop of Prague Dominik Duka questioned the survey and called it “fake news.”

Originally, the Roman Catholic Church demanded the question about religion be erased from the questionnaire. Eventually, it stayed there but was labeled as voluntary. About 70 percent of the population decided to fill in the box. However, due to the voluntary nature of the question, Duka challenged the results and called them “confusing.”

“The result spread by media as statistically accurate is more like fake news! Therefore, the claim that the number of believers decreased statistically is irrelevant!” the cardinal noted.

According to Duka, the census is more of a sociological probe and less an exact statistical conclusion. Duka also argued that some people were afraid to admit their religion.

“At the same time, there is a lack of confidence in the state! This was confirmed, for example, by some civil servants who feared the misuse of this information,” the cardinal said.

The number of belivers is much higher, says Duka

Duka claims that according to church statistics, there are four million baptized people in the Czech Republic.

“Approximately one million people are practicing Christians. Another million people come to church regularly for big festivities such as Christmas, Easter, and then celebrations of major life events. Then there are a million of those who go to church about four times in a lifetime and are sympathizers of Christian culture. And finally, there are a million people who do not know that they are baptized because they were not led to the faith at all,” Duka explained.

Ten years ago, over 1.08 million people avowed the Roman Catholic Church. Last year, there were 741,000 Roman Catholics in the Czech Republic. At the beginning of the millennium, the Catholic Church reported 3.29 million believers, and at the 1991 census, there were 4.52 million believers.

The Czechoslovak Hussite Church reported 23,600 people in the latest census, while ten years earlier, it was 39,200. The Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren was mentioned by 32,600 believers, while ten years ago, it was 51,900.

“There is a departure from specific churches, most notably the Catholic Church, which is the largest. There is a noticeable and large decline,” commented the head of Czech Statistical Office Marek Rojíček.

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