Thursday, May 18, 2006

And we wonder why things don't change

I don't know if this is good news or bad, but Georgetown's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (basically a group that does studies on U.S. Catholics) got media coverage today for a working paper it published about a month ago on lay Catholics' response to the sex abuse crisis. (If you want to click the working paper's link, you'll find it easy to read, lots of graphs and stuff.)

Of note is that parish giving has not declined really at all; diocesan fundraising has, however, with the number of respondents who said they'd given to a diocesan appeal in the past year going from 38 to 29 percent over the course of the study (2002 to 2006). Perhaps most interesting is that confidence in church leadership is back up to 77 percent after declining at one point to 55 percent.

How to interpret this? On the one hand, it's a testament to the resilience of Catholic laypeople that self-identification as Catholic (23 percent of the U.S. population) and Mass attendance (33 percent going regularly) has remained steady through all this. At the same time, the study showed a surprising ignorance of what is going on--or indifference?

One thing is for sure: Catholics don't seem to want to punish their parishes or the poor for the failure of bishops. Still, I find it hard to see how the laity are going to assert themselves if they are unwilling to raise some ruckus over this.


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