Western Europe now has "the least religious populations in the world," notes Nan Kirk de Graaf, a Dutch sociologist. This points up a forlorn fact of present-day existence for many European churches which are largely empty on Sundays-including Canterbury Cathedral, which counted 13 worshipers present for morning prayer on a recent Sunday.
(A midday communion service did better, with about 300 people taking up one-fifth of the majestic structure.) Canterbury is the mother church of the global Anglican/Episcopalian faith.
"Religious rites such as baptism, confirmation and marriage have had sharp drops" said Michael Chandler, vice dean of Canterbury, in an interview with the Washington Post, "but families go back to church when it comes time to bury a loved one."