BALLARAT Catholic Bishop Peter Connors has welcomed a modest increase in the number of people who describe themselves as members of the church but says Australia remains a very secular society.
Those identifying as Catholic increased by 0.3 per cent since 2006, bringing Ballarat’s Catholic population to 27.4 per cent, slightly lower than 2001 levels.
The number of people who have no religious affiliation in Ballarat grew by 5 per cent to 26.7 per cent in 2011.
Bishop Connors said he had observed some increases in the Catholic community and congregations remained large on feast days including Christmas and Easter.
“As more and more people are moving to Ballarat as part of population increases, I would expect something around 25 per cent of them would be Catholic,” he said.
“Some people opt out of the commitment to religion but I think that the influence of our Christian culture and tradition remains a very important part of Australian life.”
Bishop Connors said he believed Australia remained a Christian nation and would continue to do so as the population changed.
More than 67 per cent of Victorians follow one of 135 religions, compared to 68.7 per cent with 130 religions at the time of the last census.