France (Tuesday, 04-07-2015, Gaudium Press) The growing number of adults who join the Catholic Church through baptism in France is slow but steady and marks a trend. In 2005 there were almost 2,400 baptisms of adults and at Easter Sunday 2015 there have been almost 3,800 adults being baptized, which represents a 50% growth in a decade.
According to the French Catholic Bishops Conference only people over 18 years old are considered as adult baptisisms (in other countries “adult baptism” is over 8 years old).
The report also tells that an extra 1011 non adults were baptized this Easter (usually also immediately confirmed).
Reasons for baptism
Father Philippe Marxer, responsible for religious education of the French Catholic Bishops Conference, enumerates some of the reasons why adults decide to be baptized into the Catholic Church. “It could be the birth of a child or the death of a parent,” he explains, “In the first place there is a desire to give a meaning to their lives” he continues.
Approximately 40% of the new Catholics of this year grew up in familes with no affiliation to any religion whatsoever.
Most new converts are young between 25 and 35 years old.
The newspaper “Metro” reports the story of Curutchet Laure, a business executive in the pharmaceutical sector, 28 years old, who was baptized on this Easter Vigil in Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine). It all began with a curiosity about the Bible.
She completed her course in her parish taking her time: normally it takes not more than 18 months, but it took her three years and she is happy to have done it slowly. “This is not a race,” she says. “My father said we can believe without going to church,” she explains, but that argument never convinced her: “We all need a community, specially now a days” she says.
Another convert mentioned in the newspaper “Metro”, called Zenere de Tony, 24 years old, he works as a carpenter. He has a brother who converted to Islam, while her sister converted to Catholicism before himself.
He decided to read the Gospels. “When I read the Gospel, I desired to become a disciple,” he explains. He has been baptized and confirmed at the Cathedral of Evry. “It isn’t just a gesture. When the whole congregation gathers together and prays for us it is a strong feeling,” he adds.
Being a minority in a dechristianized society
According to an extensive study published the newspaper “La Croix” in 2010, of the 65 million French inhabitants only 3.2 million go to Mass on Sunday, and those who fully accept Catholic teachings (on sexual morality and other issues ) are approximately 800,000. To be baptized means to freely enter this demanding minority who believes that the power of God can transform someone’s life. 28 percent of French people declare having “no religion”, although sociologists often warn that this category includes people who believe “in God but not in religion,” as it is the case of the father of Curutchet mentioned above.
Statistics of adult baptisms in France from 2005-2015:
2005: 2,409 adult baptisms
2008: 2,675 adult baptisms
2009: 2,931 adult baptisms
2010: 2,903 adult baptisms
2011: 2,952 adult baptisms
2012: 2,958 adult baptisms
2013: 3,220 adult baptisms
2014: 3,631 adult baptisms
2015: 3,790 adult baptisms
Written by P.Gines in Religion en Libertad. From Aleteia