Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney and the Catholic Church's highest-ranking Australian official, will appear before the Victorian inquiry into child s-x abuse this afternoon. For many victims it's long overdue. Will the growing disquiet with the church and its handling of p-edophilia in the priesthood translate into fewer bums on pews?
Catholic Church attendance has been steadily declining since the 1950s in Australia, when about 74% of Catholics attended Mass regularly. In 2001, 15.3% of Catholics reported going to Mass weekly. By 2006 that had fallen to 13.8%, and in 2011 just 12.5% of Catholics said they regularly trundled down to the local church. About one-quarter of Australians are Catholic, according to the most recent census.