DePaul University has nearly 23,000 students, making it the largest of the 250 or so Catholic colleges in the United States, but a recent article in DePaul’s student newspaper suggested Catholic enrollment at the Chicago school is “declining.”

According to university officials, there’s no easy way to know for sure. But they say that of the incoming freshmen who reveal a religious affiliation — and not everybody does — fewer are identifying themselves as Catholic, down from 57 percent in 2007 to 38 percent a decade later.

At the University of Notre Dame, perhaps the nation’s best-known Catholic college, more than 80 percent of the freshmen who report a religious affiliation say they’re Catholic.

The average number at Catholic colleges nationwide was just over 50 percent in 2016, according to one account.

If Catholic enrollment is dropping at some colleges, that might fit a larger, national trend of less religious identity overall, with many people falling away from Catholicism.

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