Cultural Catholicism

by Ryan Fitzgerald  •  •  September 3, 2015   

Losing Catholicism to the culture

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WASHINGTON, September 3, 2015 ( - Yet another poll shows just how bad the crisis in the Church in America has gotten.

The latest data comes from a Pew Research Center survey, published yesterday, on Catholics in the United States. Its findings likely come as depressing news to Church leaders heading into Pope Francis' well-publicized first visit to the country.

The poll reveals an apparent distinction between religious Catholicism and cultural or ethnic Catholicism. Almost half of Catholics say their Catholicism is not religious, but is instead merely cultural or ethnic.

American Catholics do not appear to put much stock in obeying the Church's official teachings on sexuality, family or the sacraments, either. The vast majority of so-called Catholics now say it's acceptable for children to be raised by cohabiting, single or divorced parents — or even by a same-sex couple.

Most self-professed Catholics in the United States do not accept the authoritative Catholic positions on contraception, divorce and remarriage, and premarital cohabitation. In fact, most would rather the Church somehow reverse its declarations on the subjects to be more in line with a modern outlook.

The poll also finds that a majority of U.S. Catholics living in some kind of grave sin still receive Communion some of the time, regardless of being deemed inadmissible by the Church. More than 60 percent of Catholics believe divorced or cohabiting couples should be considered suitable for receiving Communion.

Further, about half of people raised Catholic end up leaving the Church, and of those who do, 77 percent say they can't imagine themselves ever returning.

On the positive side, roughly seven in ten Catholics can't imagine leaving the Church. Slightly more than a quarter of them, on the other hand, say they could.

Perhaps also a hopeful sign, given the circumstances, is that nearly 90 percent of Catholics still retain a belief in the "concept of sin," even if they do largely dismiss the Church's pronouncements about anything much more specific than that.

See the full report of the poll's results here.


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