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In February 2008 CARA surveyed 1,007 self-identified adult Catholics from Knowledge - page 2 / 10

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other incentives. For those who do not own computers, Knowledge Networks provides a television-based Internet system (MSN TV) for free. These steps ensure that the Knowledge Networks panel is as reflective as possible of the national population and that it is not biased towards those who have pre-existing access to the Internet.

Throughout the report consistent differences are noted in the responses to the survey made by sub-groups of respondents. The two most important of these subgroups are defined by Mass attendance and generation.

Various social scientific studies of contemporary Catholics have revealed important differences among generations. Older Catholics, especially those who came of age prior to Vatican II, are typically more involved in Church life and attend Mass more frequently than younger generations of Catholics. In general, they tend to score higher on most survey items that measure “commitment” to Catholicism. Knowledge about the Catholic faith also varies by generation and is frequently greatest among older Catholics. However, this depends on the topic. For example, knowledge of Church teachings and obligations is usually higher among older Catholics, but knowledge of the Bible is typically greater among younger generations. Agreement with Church teachings is, again, often relatively high among the oldest Catholics, the Pre-Vatican II Generation (born before 1943). To a lesser extent this is also true of the Millennial Generation, Catholics (born after 1981) currently in their mid-20s and younger. Agreement with Church teaching is typically lowest among the generation of Catholics who came of age during the changes associated with Vatican II (born between 1943 and 1960) and among Post-Vatican II Generation Catholics (born 1961 to 1981) though this too depends on the teaching in question.

Frequency of Mass attendance is a strong indicator of the general importance of Catholicism in a person’s life and of his or her level of commitment to living out the faith. Consequently, analyzing survey responses according to frequency of attendance consistently reveals strong differences among Catholics. In general, the more frequently one attends Mass, the more frequently he or she participates in other Church or religious activities, the greater his or her knowledge about the Catholic faith, the greater his or her awareness of current events in the Church, and the greater his or her adherence to Church teachings.

Major findings of the study are noted below.

Major Findings

Experience of Sacraments

  • Six in ten respondents (61 percent) agree “somewhat” or “strongly” with the statement, “Sacraments are essential to my faith.” More than nine in ten adult Catholics (92 percent) have received their First Communion and 84 percent have celebrated the sacrament of Confirmation. Nearly all weekly Mass attenders and those who have attended Catholic educational institutions have received their First Communion and have been confirmed.

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