Dissent from Church teachings on contentious moral issues is widespread among Catholic Americans, a new Pew Research survey has confirmed.
A majority of Catholics believe that the use of contraceptives, extra-marital sex, and remarriage after divorce are not sinful, according to the poll. More than a third of American Catholics (39%) do not believe that homosexual acts are sinful.
The Pew poll found that substantial minorities of self-identified Catholics think it is acceptable for children to be raised by unmarried couples (48%) or by same-sex couples (43%). A large majority (79%) think it acceptable for married couples to choose not to have children.
Not surprisingly, the Pew survey found that Catholics who attend Mass regularly are more likely to support the teachings of the Church. However, even among churchgoing Catholics there is substantial support for positions opposed to Church moral teachings. The Pew poll also provides new evidence that American Catholics are leaving the Church in large numbers. More than half of all Americans who were raised as Catholics have stopped practicing the faith at some point in their lives, the survey shows. Among those who say they have broken permanently with the Catholic Church, 77% report that they cannot imagine returning.