A majority of American Roman Catholics feel strongly about the sacraments and traditional church values such as caring for the poor, but they may not agree with the church teachings on topics such as abortion, same-sex marriage and maintaining a celibate, male clergy, a survey has found.
The “Catholics in America” survey of Roman Catholics published by the National Catholic Reporter found 86 percent said Catholics can disagree with aspects of church teaching and still remain loyal to the church.
“Stated in simplest terms, Catholics in the past 25 years have become more autonomous when making decisions about important moral issues; less reliant on official teaching in reaching those decisions; and less deferential to the authority of the Vatican and individual bishops,” according to the study led by William D’Antonio, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America.
The weeklong survey was conducted online with a representative sample of 1,442 Catholic adults beginning on April 24 (Easter Sunday), and had a 3.5 percentage point margin of error.
“It is noteworthy that helping the poor is almost as core to Catholics’ identity as their belief in Jesus’ resurrection, with 67 percent rating this dimension of Catholicism as very important,” the survey said.