Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 22, 2010
Study finds students in Catholic colleges less likely to stray from the faith
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON - A new study finds Catholic students at Catholic colleges are less likely than Catholics attending public colleges to move away from the Church's teachings on a variety of issues.
However, on the issue of same-sex marriage in particular, newly released research from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate found that many Catholic students at Catholic and public colleges disagree with Church teaching.
The CARA report relied on data collected from students when they were freshmen in 2004 and again when they were juniors in 2007.
CARA classified its research into two groups. The first covered beliefs and attitudes about social and political issues, including abortion, same-sex marriage, the death penalty and reducing global suffering.
The second focused on religious behaviour, such as frequency of attendance at religious services, prayer, reading of religious texts, publications.
On pro-life issues, a majority of Catholic students leave college disagreeing that abortion should be legal. But they number fewer than those who entered with that opinion, it said. Overall 56 per cent said they disagreed "strongly" or "somewhat" that "abortion should be legal."
MARRIAGE AND SEXUALITY
The study said that same-sex marriage was the issue on which Catholic students moved the furthest away from the Church. Only one in three Catholics on Catholic campuses disagreed "somewhat or "strongly" that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.
"This issue more than any other may be strongly affected by the millennial generation's post-materialist view regarding marriage and sexuality," said the study's authors, Mark Gray and Melissa Cidade.
In their junior year, 87 per cent of Catholic students at Catholic colleges said following religious teachings in everyday life was "somewhat important" to them, and 86 per cent said their "religiousness" did not become "weaker" in college.
But the study also found Mass attendance declined by almost a third of Catholics at Catholic colleges.
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