Thursday, February 11, 2010

Religious Relativity: New Survey on Catholic Millennials.

Firstly, consider the source: The Knights of Columbus, a notoriously conservative organization. So watch the spin.

The one stat that jumps out at me is 82% of Millennials think faith is relative?! What exactly does that mean for a church whose hierarchical, paternalistic laws regarding reproduction, for instance, are already ignored by a majority of older believers?

Believe in God, interested in the faith and clear on personal morality, but see morality overall as relative

ROME, Feb. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Religious attitudes of young Americans, and young Catholics holds both promise and challenges for the Catholic Church according to the results of a new Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll.

Some of the good news for the Catholic Church in the survey includes:

  • 85% of Catholic Millennials (those 18-29) believe in God.
  • The top priorities for Catholic Millennials are getting married and having a family (33%) and being spiritual or close to God (18%).
  • 82% of Catholic Millennials believe commitment to marriage is under-valued. 63% say the same about concern for the less fortunate.
  • 66% of Catholic Millennials say abortion is morally wrong, while 63% say the same of euthanasia.
  • 80% of Catholic Millennials see religion as at least "somewhat important" in their lives. 98% of practicing Catholics agree.
  • 55% of Catholic Millennials think that religious values should influence business decisions. 75% of practicing Catholics agree.

Among the challenges for the Church in reaching young people in the United States, the survey found that:

  • Nearly 2 in 3 Catholic Millennials see themselves as at least somewhat more "spiritual" than "religious." On the other hand, 55% of practicing Catholics see themselves as more "religious."
  • 61% of Catholic Millennials believe that it is all right for a Catholic to practice more than one religion. 57% of practicing Catholics disagree.
  • 82% of Catholic Millennials see morals as "relative." The majority of practicing Catholics (54%) disagree.

Despite whatever differences Catholic Millennials may have with the Church, nearly 2 in 3 (65%) are very or somewhat interested in learning more about their faith.

"It is very important for the Church to understand the outlook of the next generation of adult Catholics," said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, in Rome for meetings at the Vatican. "Catholic Millennials support Church teaching in a wide variety of areas, including contentious issues like abortion and euthanasia. In other areas, the cultural relativism that Pope Benedict XVI has spoken so much about is very evident, and it confirms the wisdom of his attention to this question as central to the New Evangelization."

Anderson concluded: "There is much good news for the Church in this survey, especially when we consider that 2 in 3 Catholic young people want to learn more about the faith. The Church has a great opportunity to evangelize, and has much to build on with the next generation of Catholics, but it must act and teach in a way that makes clear the reasons for Church teaching as part of what our pope has called our 'yes' to Jesus Christ."

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