The Scottish Catholic Observer, citing data from the annual Scottish Household Survey, say that the figures show that the Catholic faith could become the largest religion in the country in seven years.
Over 10,000 people take part in the annual Scottish Government study, which is designed to give a general view of the country’s demographics.
A question on religious belonging was introduced to the study in 2009, and the 2016 data shows that 51 per cent of Scots don’t belong to any religion.
Just under 14 per cent of Scottish adults identify as being Roman Catholic, while the Church of Scotland remains the most popular religion at 24 per cent.
Both of Scotland’s main Christian religions have seen a drop on support, although the Church of Scotland’s is much more pronounced.
In 2009, 15 per cent of those surveyed were Catholics, compared with 34 per cent who identified as members of the Church of Scotland.
“If these trends continue – with the number of Catholics remaining steady and the Church of Scotland numbers declining at the same rate – there will be more Catholics in Scotland than any other religion by 2024,” read a report in this week’s Catholic Observer, which calls the decline in Catholics ‘statistically insignificant’.
After the report was shared on social media, a number of churches and other Catholic groups hailed the claim as a sign of progress.
Holy Family, a church in Mossend, Lanarkshire, commented in response: “This is good news for our pews, but there is much work to be done!”
St Ignatius’, a Roman Catholic Church in Wishaw, saw the figures as a rallying call, sharing the story on social media and adding: “Now, this is a challenge!”
US campaign group ‘Catholic Study Fellowship’ wrote on Facebook: “In 2024 the Catholic Church, after 500 years of persecution in Scotland, will be the largest religion!”
However, Fraser Sutherland, Campaigns Manager at Humanist Society Scotland said: “It should be noted that this analysis completely ignores that fact that well over half of Scotland’s population do not subscribe to a particular religious institution.
“As recently published figures show, when asked almost three quarters of Scots say they are not religious.”
“The overwhelming majority of Scots use reason, empathy and life experience to shape their lives and actions.”