Jews, Catholics, and the assimilation problem What moves 20 million non-practicing to self-identify as Catholic?

The following comes from an Oct. 31 story by Russell Shaw on the website of Catholic World Report.

In the years since Vatican Council II, American Catholics and Jews have pursued a positive dialogue aimed, among other things, at exploring areas of common ground. Far from positive, but a crucial area of shared experience all the same, is the damage done to the respective religious identities of Jews and Catholics by assimilation into a secular culture becoming ever more hostile to faith. (If you think it isn’t, by the way, consider that some 20% of Americans now say they have no religious affiliation-up 5% in just a few years.)

On the Jewish side, the latest evidence of this process is the study of American Jews-the most comprehensive in a dozen years-released last month by the Pew Research Center. Not only has the percentage of adults who say they’re Jews fallen by half since the 1950s to under 2% now, but among those who still self-identify as Jewish, more than one in five report having no religion.

This is possible, the Pew people explain, because Jews can be Jews simply “on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity or culture,” without reference to religion. Now, it seems, a substantial number do just that.

This phenomenon has no close parallel among American Catholics. Or does it?