LIMA, Peru

Less than a third of Catholic youth in Peru consider themselves to be religious, according to a study carried out in March by the market research firm GFK Company and the national newspaper The Republic.

The survey, conducted in three cities in Peru, also reveals that 41 percent of people polled consider themselves to be religious, compared to 59 percent that consider themselves to be somewhat, little or not at all religious, the Latin America and Caribbean Communication Agency reported.

This information contrasts with that of the 2007 National Population Census, according to which 97.1 percent of the Peruvians said that they belonged to a religion, with 81.3 percent saying they were Catholic. A previous survey carried out by the University of Lima in 2009 showed 77.5 percent of the population of the capital city indicated that they considered themselves Catholic.

The GFK study also finds that 48 percent of those considered to be the most religious are concentrated in the south of the country. In the east, 35 percent of the survey population considers itself to be little or not at all religious.

Only 17 percent of all interviewed said that they attend Mass one or more times a week. That number is lower among those under 40, with only 11 percent saying they attend mass at least once a week, a number that increases to 23 percent of those over 40.

On the other hand, 39 percent of the young people expressed devotion to a saint. 

The GFK survey also found that controversial Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, the highest ranking representative of the Opus Dei in Peru, has a 49 percent approval rate among Catholics, while 41 percent disapprove. Cipriani had supported the Fujimori regime, which was accused of supporting internal armed conflict and the violation of human rights.