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New poll says US Catholics prefer ‘social justice’ emphasis over pro-life cause

CWN - October 22, 2012

Most American Catholics believe that Church leaders should promote “social justice” concerns in public policy, rather than concentrating on abortion, according to a new opinion survey.

The American Values Survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, found that 60% of Catholics would prefer an emphasis on social justice, while only 31% would favor concentrating on the right to life. The “social justice” emphasis is favored even by Catholics who attend Mass weekly, by a bare 51% majority.

The survey is flawed in that the questions presume that protection for the right to life is not a matter of social justice. The wording of the question implies that an emphasis on social-justice issues would require a different approach regarding public issues—an implication that the US bishops would surely reject.

The survey found a significant split among Catholics regarding the 2012 presidential race, with those who attend Mass regularly far more likely to support Mitt Romney’s candidacy, while those who attend Mass infrequently favoring the re-election of President Obama.

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Show 11 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: mgreen32234 - Oct. 23, 2012 2:47 PM ET USA

    Just in time for the bishops return home from the Synod and any questions they may have had about what should be the content of the new evangelization.

  • Posted by: unum - Oct. 23, 2012 1:12 AM ET USA

    Hmmm! It sounds like some of the brothers and sisters have been responding to the teaching of the Democrat party instead of the Vatican. But, it is possible they are just listening to the members of the clergy who are getting their teaching from the Democrats.

  • Posted by: d.buigas6355 - Oct. 22, 2012 10:34 PM ET USA

    I agree that the poll is flawed. Protecting the unborn is part of social justice. However, even with the imperfect poll question, why didn't the pollsters have a "both" option? I think most Catholics would have chosen that option.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Oct. 22, 2012 8:14 PM ET USA

    I believe a wise man said that the majority is always wrong.

  • Posted by: impossible - Oct. 22, 2012 6:44 PM ET USA

    And the score is USCCB 80, Catholics in the pews 20.

  • Posted by: Chestertonian - Oct. 22, 2012 5:55 PM ET USA

    There's a reason life is listed first among the self-evident rights in the Declaration of Independence: if you are denied life, no other rights matter. So, what do any social justice issues matter to a dead baby? This is just further proof of the ignorance rampant among the last several generations of Catholics, the result of pitifully poor catechesis of those who received it via once-a-week CCD taught by others also poorly catechized. I know this from personal experience; I'm self-taught.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Oct. 22, 2012 5:43 PM ET USA

    Do you think the survey contained discriminator items for "wheat" preference or "tare" preference?

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Oct. 22, 2012 5:37 PM ET USA

    Gee. Think how much easier it would have been if Jesus Christ had taken a survey to decide what to teach.

  • Posted by: joancollins507161 - Oct. 22, 2012 5:31 PM ET USA

    The Church should emphasize, first of all, the right to life (and related issues such as stem cell research)and the sanctity of marriage. Of course, caring for the poor is important, but government social programs are not the best answer. The US has spent trillions of dollars to eradicate poverty, yet the number of poor is steadily increasing. Additionally, such programs often lead to dependency on government and, in the long run, are unsustainable and can bankrupt the country.

  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Oct. 22, 2012 5:14 PM ET USA

    It is sad to see this divide. How much more "social justice" can you get than to say that you can't kill unborn human life? Is there any less justice in that than in saying that we need to care for the poor in Mozambique?

  • Posted by: shrink - Oct. 22, 2012 4:46 PM ET USA

    We're just one big happy family all bundled up in one big seamless garment.

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