Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
May 14, 2001
Youth favour personal faith
Survey concludes young adult Catholics today are not angry at the Church
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON — A survey of young adult U.S. Catholics reported that they strongly prefer a personalized view of the faith instead of the rules of the institutional Church.
At the same time, it showed almost total adherence to core Christian beliefs such as that Christ is God or the Son of God. The survey also reported an overwhelming desire in young adults to have their children receive religious instruction.
The survey and an analysis are contained in the book Young Adult Catholics: Religion in the Culture of Choice, to be published in June by the University of Notre Dame Press. An advance copy of the manuscript was made available to Catholic News Service.
The survey and analysis were done by four sociologists led by Dean Hoge, sociology professor and director of the Life Cycle Institute at The Catholic University of America in Washington.
The survey is based on 1997 interviews with 848 people between the ages of 20 and 39. The people were selected randomly from lists of people receiving Confirmation at 44 parishes across the country.
The respondents were evenly divided between Latinos and non-Latinos. Among the non-Latinos, 94 per cent were of European white descent.
"Many young Catholics have a weaker and more tentative affiliation with the institutional Church than previous generations," the authors concluded.
"Most young adult Catholics today, however, are not angry at the Church. They are simply distanced from it," they said.
"Where many seek a Church community, they often encounter one of hierarchy," they said.
Tensions exist on the role of women in the Church and issues related to marriage, divorce, sexuality and the desire for more democratic Church structures, they added.
The survey results showed that Catholics remain loyal to their Church affiliation, with 89 per cent of the non-Latinos and 91 per cent of the Latinos identifying themselves as Catholics.
However, 31 per cent of all the respondents said they went to Mass once a week and 64 per cent said you can be a good Catholic without going to Mass. The number of people attending Mass at least once per month jumped to 69 per cent of the non-Latinos and 66 per cent of the Latinos.
"Their Catholic loyalty also springs from a conviction that the individual can define Catholicism on his or her own terms independent of Church authority," concluded the authors.
Sixty-one per cent of the non-Latinos and 69 per cent of the Latinos said a person should arrive at religious beliefs independent of any churches. Regarding the final authority on good and evil, 71 per cent of the non-Latinos and 73 per cent of the Latinos said it was "the individual's informed conscience."
Regarding Latinos, the survey said that the similarities in most responses to the non-Latinos showed that "assimilation is clearly taking place among Latinos on the second, third and fourth generations." It also noted that 96 per cent of the Latinos chose to be surveyed in English despite having the choice of using Spanish.
Of the Latino respondents, 88 per cent were born in the United States.
The authors said the survey was taken within the context of a U.S. society where Catholicism is no longer excluded from mainstream life and in which there is a greater social acceptance of cultural, ethnic and religious diversity.
Hoge said the overall margin of error was plus or minus three per cent.
Survey results also showed that:
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.