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In February 2008 CARA surveyed 1,007 self-identified adult Catholics from Knowledge - page 9 / 10





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in their daily life (75 percent say that this is either “among the most important parts” of their life or “the most important part” of their life).

  • Eighty-three percent of respondents say that helping those in need is either “somewhat” or “very” important to their “sense of what it means to be a Catholic.” Eight in ten say receiving the Eucharist is equally important (79 percent), followed by receiving Confirmation (74 percent), living a life consistent with Church teaching (73 percent), having devotion to Mary (68 percent), attending Mass (66 percent), having devotion to the saints (63 percent), and going to Confession (56 percent). In addition, two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) agree “somewhat” or “strongly” with the statement, “Helping the poor and needy is a moral obligation for Catholics.”

  • Those who have attended Catholic educational institutions are among the most likely to say that “living my life consistent with Church teaching” is “very” important to their sense of what it means to be Catholic. Fifty-four percent of those who attended a Catholic college or university responded as such, as did 49 percent of those who attended Catholic high schools and 46 percent of those who attended Catholic elementary and middle schools. Overall, 37 percent of adult Catholics say this is “very” important to their sense of being Catholic.

  • About eight in ten adult Catholics do not doubt the following creedal statements: “There is only one God, a Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (81 percent), that “Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven” (80 percent) and that “Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary” (79 percent). Nearly all weekly Mass attenders do not doubt these beliefs (97 percent each).

  • About three-fourths of Catholics do not doubt that “There is a heaven” (76 percent), that “God, the Father, is creator of heaven, the earth, and all we know of the universe” (76 percent), that “Mary, the Mother of God, was immaculately conceived without original sin” (73 percent), and that “Christ will come again at the end of time to judge the living and the dead” (71 percent). Nine in ten or more weekly Mass attenders do not doubt any of these beliefs (90 percent, 93 percent, 90 percent, and 91 percent; respectively).

  • Catholics are somewhat less of one mind regarding Hell. Sixty-seven percent of all adult Catholics have no doubt that “There is a Hell.” Seventy-eight percent of weekly Mass attenders say they do not doubt this belief.

Parish Life in a Time of Fewer Priests

  • Only 15 percent of adult Catholics have noticed that the number of Catholic priests has declined in recent decades and report that they have been personally affected by these changes (29 percent among weekly Mass attenders). A majority (51 percent) say they have noticed the decline but say that they have not been affected (54 percent among weekly Mass attenders). A third of respondents (34 percent) say they have not noticed a change in the number of priests (17 percent of weekly Mass attenders).


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