Apr 102013
Catholic bishops on Wednesday contested findings by pollster Social Weather Stations which said Filipino Catholics’ church attendance had dwindled from 64 percent in 1991 to a mere 37 percent now.

In an article on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines news site, bishops maintained Mass attendance was still strong.

“I think a scientific study should be made to validate such observation… In the diocese, I do not see this observation and in fact the number of churchgoers increased because we have mall Masses,” Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco said.

Quiapo Church rector Msgr. Clemente Ignacio added he could not believe the SWS survey claim, citing a big increase in churchgoers and devotees of the Black Nazarene.

Devotees of the Black Nazarene are among the most demonstrative, taking part in a yearly procession, which can be characterized as near-dangerous, of the Black Nazarene to the Quiapo Church.

For his part, former CBCP president and Jaro (Iloilo) Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said church attendance has been good in Iloilo province’s 93 parishes.

“It’s a matter of minus and plus. There are those who no longer go to Sunday Mass but there are also new Catholics who started to go to Sunday Mass,” Lagdameo said.,

He added the nine Masses in Jaro cathedral are still filled to capacity.

Meanwhile, in Mindanao, Marbel Diocese in South Cotabato built a new parish last December 30. Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez added that they will inaugurate another new parish this coming June 24.,

“In our 26 parishes, church attendance is going up. I have visited 17 parishes (recently) and the findings showed vibrancy,” he said. “All have integrated parish pastoral action plans based on the diocesan strategic plan,” he said.

Meanwhile, the CBCP said it was noteworthy that the SWS released the survey – conducted Feb. 15 to 17 – only last April 7. This was one day before the Church’s biggest lay groups pooled forces to support senate candidates who opposed the Reproductive Health law. — DVM, GMA News

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