American Media and the Center for Applied Research at Georgetown University in partnership with GfK, a survey firm, recently released their findings from the most comprehensive survey of American Catholic women that has ever been conducted.
The survey was conducted August 3 – 24, 2017. The Center for Applied Research (CARA) interviewed 1,508 women who identified themselves as Catholic. The interviews were conducted both over the phone and online.
The survey also asked women about issues such as prayer, vocational discernment, parish life, Mass attendance, reconciliation, women deacons, politics, and women’s experience of sexism with the Catholic Church.
Here is a quick look at a few of the results. You can view the full summary of the survey results online here.
Catholic women and marriage
Women who had never been married were asked if it was important for them to marry a man who was Catholic, and how important it would be for them to marry in a Catholic Church. Only 18% of women responded that it was “very” important for them to marry a Catholic. Some women responded that they were not planning to marry (12%).
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32% of women who were planning to marry at some point said it was “very much” important to them to get married within the Catholic Church. A majority (52%) said that decision was somewhat important to them.
Catholic women and parish life
Approximately 24% of American Catholic women attend Mass once a week or more. 23% of the women surveyed attend Mass less than weekly (but at least once a month). 27% of American Catholic women attend a few times a year, and, finally, 26% of women attend Mass “rarely” or never.
When it comes to parish involvement, assisting the poor and receiving the Eucharist are the most important to the “sense of what it means to be Catholic” – 45% of respondents answered “very much” when it came to that question. But less important to the sense of what it means to be Catholic were being involved in their parish community (18%) and going to confession regularly (20%).
Catholic women on staying Catholic
49% of Catholic women in America strongly agreed with the statement “I am proud to be Catholic”, while 19% agreed somewhat to that statement. This means that approximately 68% of Catholic women living in America are proud of their Catholic faith. In comparison, only 7% of women surveyed answered that they were not proud of their Catholic faith at all.
When asked if they ever considered leaving the Catholic faith, 82% of American Catholic women had not considered that as a possibility. 12% had considered leaving the Church, but decided against it. 6% of surveyed women had left the Catholic Church for a period of time, but had since returned to the faith (all women surveyed currently identified as Catholic).
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Surveyors then asked women who had thought about leaving Catholicism what had made them consider that decision. A majority of the women answered that they had considered leaving because they disagreed with the Catholic Church’s teaching on a particular issue (39%). Other answers included being attracted to another religion (23%), having an issue with their local parish (15%), frustration with hypocrisy from members of the church (9%), or the clergy sex abuse scandal (7%). The remaining 21% of women surveyed cited a reason that didn’t fit into any of those categories.