ROME (LifeSiteNews) — Traditionally Catholic Italy is facing a catastrophic collapse of the faith as Mass attendance falls precipitously to 10 percent of the population and even less in some areas. 

The steady, even accelerating, decline in the practice of the Catholic faith among Italians is detailed in a new study published by Professor Luca Diotallevi of the University of Rome in a book entitled La messa è sbiadita: La partecipazione ai riti religiosi in Italia dal 1993 al 2019 (The Mass has faded: Participation in religious rites in Italy from 1993 to 2019).

In the book, Diotallevi examines the numbers, demographics, and possible causes of the sharp collapse of Sunday Mass attendance in Italy over the last 30 years. According to his findings, Italian Catholicism is on the cusp of disappearing. 

According to Diotallevi’s study, which is based on figures from ISTAT, the Italian National Statistics Institute, Mass attendance in Italy has been in freefall since 1993, with a more marked decline from 2005 on and another dive in 2020 and 2021, corresponding with the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2017 for the first time, the number of Italian Catholics who “never” attend Mass exceeded the number who said they attended “at least once a week.” 

In 1993 the number of practicing Catholics in relation to the total population of Italy was already low at 37.3 percent. This fell to 23.7 percent in 2019. Diotallevi points out that declared regular Sunday Mass attendance is always higher than actual attendance, so the actual percentage of practicing Catholics is even lower than official stats show.

The Roman professor wrote:

In the Italian population (of age and above), individual declarations of participation with ‘at least weekly’ frequency in highly institutionalized religious rituals, and thus also characterized by some form of significantly centralized regulation, in the period from 1993 to 2019 (source ISTAT, AVQ) have experienced a drastic decrease: they have lost about a third of their initial value. The indicator (which structurally overestimates ‘real’ participation) in the indicated period has experienced not only a consistent decline but also an acceleration. Such acceleration experienced a significant moment roughly in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century.