Poll: Young adults more likely than older Catholics to accept all of Church teaching
A new survey released this week has found that 1 in 5 Catholic likely voters say they accept everything the Church teaches, with young adults being more likely than older generations to say they agree with Catholic doctrine.
RealClear Opinion Research, in partnership with EWTN News, conducted an Oct. 5-11 poll, surveying 1,490 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic. It is the fourth in a series of surveys of Catholics over the past year.
The poll asked Catholic likely voters about their religious beliefs and practices. Answers from respondents on questions such as the importance of faith in their life and their frequency of prayer are consistent with answers in previous polls in the series.
One significant shift in the data is an increase in young adult Catholics who say they believe everything the Catholic Church teaches.
Twenty-five percent of 18-34 year olds in the latest survey said they accept everything the Church teaches, compared to 21% of those ages 35-54 and 16% of those 55 and older.
A previous survey in late January and early February asked Catholic registered voters the same question. It found that 17% of young adult Catholics said they accept everything the Church teaches, with 19% of older age groups saying the same.
Overall, 88% percent of respondents said religion is important in their life, including 50% who said it was “very important.” More than 8 in 10 respondents of all ages, races, and genders agreed that religion is important to them.
Catholics who say they accept everything the Church teaches were almost twice as likely to say their faith is “very important” as those who do not accept all of Church teaching.
Almost 4 in 10 Catholics surveyed said they attended Mass at least once per week before coronavirus restrictions were put in place earlier this year.
An earlier poll by RealClear Opinion Research and EWTN News, conducted in late August, found that just over half of Catholic likely voters said that once restrictions are lifted, they plan to attend Mass more frequently than they did before the pandemic.
Half of Catholics in the latest poll said they believe in the Real Presence of the Eucharist, with just over one-third saying they believe the Eucharist is just a symbol, and the remainder saying they are unsure.
Those who attend Mass more frequently were more likely to believe in the True Presence, with almost 7 in 10 respondents who attend Mass at least weekly saying they believe the Eucharist is really the Body and Blood of Christ.
These findings on belief in the Real Presence of the Eucharist are consistent with a previous poll of Catholic registered voters by RealClear Opinion Research and EWTN News last November.
Four in five Catholic likely voters say they pray at least once per week, with more than half of respondents saying they pray daily. Regular prayer is common regardless of age, gender, and race – more than 70% of each demographic in the poll said they pray at least weekly.
Among survey respondents, 11% say they pray the rosary every day, while an additional 16% say they pray the rosary at least once per week. Thirty-one percent said they pray the rosary monthly to yearly, and 43% do so less than once per year.
Sixty percent of Catholic likely voters say they go to confession less than once per year. Ten percent say they go to confession annually, 21% say they go a few times per year, and 9% say they go at least monthly.
Catholics ages 18-34 are most likely to go to confession at least once per year, with 56% saying they do so, compared to 46% of those ages 35-43 and 26% of those 55 and older. Fifteen percent of men said they go to confession at least monthly, while 5% of women said the same.
The practices of monthly confession and praying the rosary at least once per week were significantly more common among Catholics who said they accept all of the Church’s teachings and those who attend Mass at least weekly than among those who do not accept everything the Church teaches and those who attend Mass less frequently.
Although not specified, I take it that this is the result of an American Survey. I think it more background should be given in publication.
Your comments, Peter, seem to express some reservations about this survey. It requires far more background as you suggest. In this US survey “1 in 5 Catholic likely voters say they accept everything the Church teaches.” yet In Australia church membership has been declining since the 1950s, Only 8 per cent to 10 per cent of those who identify as Catholics are regular mass attenders; and almost a third of these are aged between 60 and 74.
Logical questions include: was the sampling group representative of US Catholics? Why is there such a contrast in experience between the Church in the US and Australia? If this survey is representative, then what are they doing so well that is not being done in Australia?
Do you have any information about what teachings are not accepted.
Is it possible to find out what percentage of respondents fit into each age group?
The results of this American survey are indeed amazing. I am not sure how it translates into the Australian context given the following: only 8 per cent to 10 per cent of those who identify as Australian Catholics are regular mass attenders; and almost a third of these are aged between 60 and 74.
Many young people highly value Catholic school education but the nexus between Catholic schools and the parish community in Australia has been tenuous in my view. It is this connection – between the school and parish community – that needs to be strengthened and I would be interested in Australian survey data in this area. The future of the Church depends on young people so this is a critical area.
Generally Australian disaffected Catholics are not clamouring for more doctrine, Canon Law, the Magisterium or the Catechism as they depart but they do yearn for an authentic Church and spirituality that closely reflects Jesus of the gospels.
Ditto to the last para of Peter Donnan’s comments.
We would prefer a church which reflects the teachings of Jesus and a spirituality which encompasses tolerance and inclusiveness and open-ness.
Pope Francis is open and making changes, however it has not had a flow-on effect.