Friday, April 17, 2009

Poll finds ‘progressive’ Catholics more pessimistic about Church’s future

A new poll shows that American Catholics are generally optimistic about the future of their Church, with self-described “orthodox” Catholics tending to be more hopeful and more churchgoing than self-described “progressive” Catholics.

The results come from the Spring 2009 Le Moyne-Zogby Contemporary Catholic Trends (CCT) survey, which polled 3,812 randomly sampled members of the Zogby Interactive Panel between Feb. 23 and 25. Respondents included 767 Catholics, who described themselves in a variety of ways.

Twenty percent of Catholic respondents described themselves as “progressive,” while 11 percent identified themselves as “orthodox.” Seven percent said they were “Evangelical,” four percent said they were “fundamentalist,” and three percent said they were “Born-Again.”

Among all Catholic respondents, 36 percent said they were very optimistic and 37 percent said they were somewhat optimistic about the Church’s future. Eighteen percent were somewhat pessimistic, with only five percent being very pessimistic.

According to Zogby, “progressive” Catholic respondents were the most likely to be pessimistic, with 36 percent being somewhat pessimistic and four percent being very pessimistic about the future of the Church.

Among the “orthodox” Catholics, six percent were somewhat pessimistic, while only one percent was very pessimistic.

Concerning Mass attendance, 63 percent of “progressive” Catholics attend less than once per month, while 79 percent of the “orthodox” attend Mass at least once a month. Nineteen percent of “progressives” attend Mass weekly or more often, while 65 percent of the “orthodox” attend that frequently.

[The parameters for "orthodox" here are strange. Missing Mass without a valid reason is a Mortal Sin. If 21% of the orthodox are regularly missing Mass, one would hope that they are regularly going to Confession to rectify that error.

It's no wonder that 40% of "progressives" are pessimistic about the future of the Church. 81% for them don't attend weekly Mass and it is unlikely that they regularly go to Confession. And dollars to donuts, you can be sure that they haven't kept up on their religious education since they were children. And all they remember about that seems to be "peace and justice."]

About 64 percent of all Catholic respondents said the sacraments were very important to their faith, while 23 percent said they were somewhat important. Another 61 percent said the Church’s concern for the poor was very important, with another 29 percent saying it was somewhat important.

Around 81 percent of all Catholics said teachings about Mary as the Mother of God are somewhat or very important to their faith.

Concerning the priesthood, only 36 percent of respondents said it is somewhat or very important to their faith that the priesthood should be all male, while 32 percent said it is somewhat or very important that the priesthood remain celibate.

Sixty-nine percent of the “orthodox” Catholics believed an all-male priesthood is somewhat or very important, while only six percent of “progressives” felt it is important to their faith.

Dr. Matthew Loveland, principal investigator of the CCT project, commented on the poll results in an April 9 Zogby press release: "These numbers remind us that news headlines are only part of the Catholic religious experience. When asked to reflect on the Church, I expect that most people think of their personal religious lives, not the national headlines. Religion is experienced, most vividly, in the parish and the family. In fact, 76% of respondents said that family connections are an important aspect of their faith. So, to me, these numbers suggest that most Catholics are satisfied with their personal religious lives." California Catholic Daily


Margaret said...

Some of the 21% of orthodox that are missing Mass regularly may be elderly or infirm. My 70+ year old parents often miss Mass during the winter, not so much due to driving conditions but because they can't afford to take a spill and there is usually a lot of walking on ice to get there. My grandma didn't attend Mass for about the last 5 years of her life because she was too frail. She did have people bring her communion at home.

Unknown said...

Excellent point, Margaret.

Whether the elderly or the infirm were included in the poll selection technique, I don't know.

More importantly, missing Mass for the reasons you state is NOT a Mortal Sin. The Church has always been understanding about that.

Just like in the days when men were the sole wage-earners of the family and they worked 6 12-hour days, the Lent and Advent laws concerning fasting and abstinence were much less severe for them.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

People that refuse to fully believe can not help but be more pessimistic. Full belief brings full confidence, uncertainty doesn't.