I4 IKE all news
papers the CATHOLIC HERALD loves its readers. But, more important. do our readers love us? To find the answer to that question was one of the purposes of a survey we conducted in our issue of May 10.
We also wanted to find out a little more about our readers: how they have reacted to the various winds and hurricanes of change that have blown through the Church in recent years; what age they are; how many of our readers are men, how many women; what other papers they read; what they do for a living: what they drink and so on.
Nearly 4,000 of our readers bared their souls and the task of writing about the results — produced by a monster computer which ate the replies greedily, digested them and then coughed them up again in line upon line of statistics — has fallen to me.
You will notice that the answers to some questions do not add up to 100 per cent. This is accounted for either by the "don't knows" or because there was more than one possible answer to the question (e.g., What do you drink?).
Our computer tells us that there is no such thing as a composite reader of the CATIIOLIC HERALD. And some of the things you say about us border on the alarming. Some readers find us violently Left-wing. but before you can say "Salazar" others will cry: "Rubbish! They're Fascists!"
Again, you might think that Latin Massers would be conservative in their attitude towards Church unity. Nothing of the sort. More than 60 per cent of those who prefer the Mass in Latin are quite happy about the way in which the Church is conducting its ecumenical business, The question: Do you prefer the Mass in English or Latin? produced no unexpected fireworks. The vernacularists romped home to a thumping victory with a 68 per cent vote against the Latinists' 30 per cent. The younger YOU are the more likely it is that you prefer English. Nearly 80 per cent of those between 16 and 34 years plumped for Mass in English.
It was the over 65s who redressed the balance. Nearly half of them-46 per cent—still prefer the Mass in Latin.
CAT HO I. 1 C HERALD readers are ecumenists par excellence. Only 15 per cent of them think that the Church has gone too far in her efforts towards Church unity. Nearly 40 per cent are satisfied with the progress so far made and a large 43 per cent are impatient for more change.
The same enthusiasm for progress is obvious from the replies to our question on the modernisation of the Church. We asked: The Vatican Council has tried to bring the Church up to date. Do YOU think this has involved the right amount of changes, too many changes or too few changes? The answers were: The right amount of changes? 38 Too many changes? 26 Too few changes? 32 An interesting point about the answers to that question is that 30 per cent of those who want the Latin Mass thought that there had been zoo few changes since the Council. Again. it was the older Catholics who most resisted change.
From the answers to the question: "Do you normally go to Sunday Mass in the morning or the evening'?" it seems that those who go in the evening don't buy Catholic papers. Only eight per cent of CATHOLIC HERALD readers are in this category. Possibly all the papers have been sold by the end of the day.
The abolition of Friday abstinence has sound support. Just over 60 per cent are pleased and the most pleased were the Irishborn, who, all through the survey, show themselves more open to change than the English. There's one to confound the pundits.
And what about your favourite features in the CATHOLIC HERALD? The top of the pops will be no surprise to anyone. For generations our Letters Page has been famous for its cut and thrust, and quite obviously, with a 73 per cent vote, its supremacy remains unchallenged. In fact, one reader thought that the whole paper was "dry and boring" except for the letters.
Another reader asked: "How about a referendum if St. John-Stevas should resign his column?" Well, sir or madam, here is your answer: Mr. St. JohnStevas holds second place in our readers' affections. The news has been passed to Pope Norman at his Summer Residence.
And third came the Leader, though we suspect that there may have been some confusion here over the Leader (the paper's own opinion column) and the main article on the leader page which is the contributor's own opinion.
We asked: "Is there any topic which. in your opinion, the CATHOLIC HERALD should cover and does not?" You must excuse us if. for the time being, we keep the answers to that one under lock and key. After all, we do have rivals.
But we are quite happy to let you know what our readers think of us. I re produce some of the more printable quotes: Drop all your Left-wing activities.
You're too Tory.
Something of interest to Catholics, not only for the People of God.
More sympathy for the diehards.
More radical Catholic thinking.
More Muggeridge, less Mayhew.
Get rid of Fr. Symon.
Look at the Rheinischer Merkur. (We read it with our coernfiakes every mornainrg,s. sir.) Give us better obituieYou are too middleclass.
Why do the Bishop of Clifton's Engagements not appear among Bishops' Engagements? [They do.] C.H. much better 20-30 years ago.
Lay off Rhodesia, Comment on the arrogance priests. swinging Left Watch the Humanists.
The C.H. should be more consi stently progressive and radical in policy and outlook (reader aged 72).
Our next question asked readers to state which of the secular papers they read. The Daily Telegraph is our readers' favourite daily newspaper, with 37 per cent opting for it. The Times limps into second place with 18 per cent. followed by the Daily Mail and the Guardian.
But the stablemate of The Times, the Sunday Times, occupies the weekend reading habits of 38 per cent of our readers, with the Observer catching second place followed closely by the Sunday Express.
Over half of our readers are married-55 per centand 38 per cent are single. The rest are widowed. Teenagers and young marrieds up to the age of 44 form our biggest block of readers taking 47 per cent of the total with the 45-64 age group at 39 per cent.
As was to be expected almost 80 per cent of our readers are British, with the first generation Irish runners-up at 14 per cent and 8 per cent of other nationalities. Our readers live in Norway, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Tanzania, Canada, the United States, Spain, Portugal, Italy, South Africa, Australia and even Japan.
One of the big surprises of the survey was the answer to question 15: Where do you buy the CATHOLIC HERALD? As many as 44 per cent of our sales are through newsagents, an interesting shift from the situation some years ago when Catholic papers were sold almost exclusively at the church door.
But it is our older readers who buy through newsagents. Most younger people. it appears. buy their Catholic paper at the church door—an added incentive for parish priests to make sure they are available.
The G.P.O. must love CATHOLIC HERALD readers. More than 70 per cent of them have telephones cornpared with a national average of 20.7 per cent.
And one last question: What do CATHOLIC HERALD readers drink? The answer is: almost everything and quite a lot of it. Wine comes top of the list with 62 per cent, followed closely by sherry (59 per cent) and beer (40 per cent). The Irish drink very much less than the English, and younger people do not drink as much as older people. Cider is the young drink and it is whisky for the single 35-44 age group.
Hand me that cider while I toast the reader who pleaded: "Make Kevin Mayhew shorter."