Catholics in America

Right and wrong: Who has final say?



One key to understanding the way that Catholics approach moral issues and questions of right and wrong is to consider the sources to which they look for moral authority. Are decisions about right and wrong ultimately the province of church leaders like the pope and bishops? Or does moral authority reside with individuals deciding these things for themselves -- perhaps after taking church teachings into account? Or do both church leaders and individuals, working together, constitute the proper locus of moral authority?

Knowledge and belief about the real presence



The Catholic church teaches that in the consecration of the Eucharist, the bread and wine really become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.’ ” This is a key doctrine of the faith and a teaching that sets Catholics apart from most other Christians.

Religion and political affiliation



Reports in the media based on national surveys in recent years indicate that voters see Republicans as more religious, or friendlier to religion than Democrats, in particular because of their support for core moral values centering on human sexuality and family life. Our survey provides an opportunity to see whether and how Catholics who are Democrats or Republicans vary in their religious practices and in moral and political attitudes.

Survey highlights struggles of young Hispanic Catholics



In the opening essay (see story), we noted the importance of generation as a variable in the American Catholic surveys of the last 25 years. Today the pre-Vatican II generation is making its final appearance and the millennial generation is coming into its own. This latter cohort, numbering about 15 million in the general population, is more racially and ethnically diverse than earlier cohorts. Currently, Hispanics make up 45 percent of the millennial generation of U.S. Catholics. Within the next generation, it is likely that Hispanics may become the majority among American Catholics. We begin this essay with a description of the demographics that distinguish this youngest generation of adult Catholics.

A Note on Sponsorship


Catholics in America is the fifth survey of Catholic attitudes conducted every six years by a research team headed by William V. D’Antonio. Taken together, the surveys comprise one of the deepest and most consistent portraits ever compiled of the membership of the country’s largest religious denomination. In the past, the studies have been described as the most definitive that exist of U.S. Catholics.

This year’s survey has several sponsors: A grant provided by an anonymous donor was matched by the following: the Rotondaro Family Foundation, the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, the National Catholic Reporter, the Rudolf Family Foundation, the Donegal Foundation and the Luger Family Foundation. NCR primarily sponsored the 1987 and 1993 surveys, with additional funds for the first survey provided by Fr. Andrew Greeley. The Louisville Institute funded the 1999 survey, and the institute and an anonymous donor cosponsored the 2005 survey, again with financial support from NCR. The teams of researchers, consultants and coauthors are grateful to the donors who have made these surveys possible.



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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017