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New England Catholic Population Declines Sharply

A new study says the number of New Englanders who identify themselves as Catholic is on the decline.

The American Religious Identification Survey, being released Monday by Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., found the Catholic population of New England fell by more than 1 million people in the past two decades.

The region is now 36 percent Catholic, down from 50 percent in 1990.

The study's authors attribute the drop to the relocation of some people to other parts of the country, and an increase in the number of people who say they do not identify with any religion.

They tell The Boston Globe the Catholic church's clergy abuse crisis may have contributed to the decline.

The study was based on 54,000 telephone interviews last year.

This program aired on March 9, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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