Critical need by 8/31:   $10,000 to cover a crippling immediate shortfall.   $5,640 to go.   Please help now!
Click here to advertise on

Young adult Catholics are largely pro-life but say they are moral relativists

Catholic World News - February 12, 2010

In a 1997 report to the American bishops, Archbishop Daniel Buechlein of Indianapolis documented “a pattern of doctrinal deficiencies” in the catechetical texts he had reviewed. Over a dozen years later, some of the fruits of that insufficient catechesis are on display in a new survey conducted by the Knights of Columbus and the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

The survey found that 82% of Catholic millennials-- those between the ages of 18 and 29-- believe that “morals are relative; that is, there is no definite right and wrong for everybody,” while only 18% believe that “morals are fixed and based on unchanging standards.”

Contradicting this profession of moral relativism, large majorities of Catholic millennials believe that plagiarism (91%), adultery (87%), and “business decisions motivated by greed” (76%) are morally wrong. Despite a largely pro-abortion media culture, 66% of Catholic millennials believe that abortion is morally wrong, and 63% believe that euthanasia is immoral.

In addition, 65% say that medical testing on animals is immoral.

Smaller percentages of Catholic millennials believe that drug use (47%), same-sex marriage (37%), gay and lesbian relations (35%), divorce (35%), embryonic stem-cell research (33%), and pre-marital sex (20%) are immoral.

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • 85% of Catholic millennials believe in God
  • 49% of Catholic millennials say that their faith is “extremely important” or “very important” to them, and an additional 31% say that it is “somewhat important”
  • a remarkable 61% of Catholic millennials-- vs. 50% of millennials overall-- believe that “it is okay for someone of your religion to also practice other religions”
  • 28% of Catholic millennials are “very interested,” and 31% are “somewhat interested,” in learning more about their faith. Among Catholic millennials who are practicing Catholics, the figures rise to 32% and 52%.
  • Additional sources for this story
    Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

    An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

    Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

    Our Spring Challenge Grant
    Progress toward our Spring Challenge Grant goal ($15,954 to go):
    $35,000.00 $19,046.18
    46% 54%
    Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

    All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

    Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
    • Posted by: Chestertonian - Feb. 13, 2010 12:59 AM ET USA

      We need to get nuns back into the Catholic schools, thus reducing the cost of Catholic education to a more affordable level. CCD is woefully inadequate, as 2 generations of attendees now prove. You can't expect much from those ignorant of their own faith. Make good Catholic ed affordable again, then convince parents it's worth it to send their kids; that's the only way to improve those statistics.

    • Posted by: rpp - Feb. 12, 2010 9:21 PM ET USA

      This is as encouraging as a report that says the rate of increase of unemployment is slowed a slight bit - when you have been out of work for two years.

    Subscribe for free
    Shop Amazon
    Click here to advertise on

    Recent Catholic Commentary

    Every Aspect of the Catholic Thing 22 hours ago
    News Posturing: How the dramatis personae use each other 23 hours ago
    The intractable practical problems with the Kasper proposal August 28
    No, the Pope did not endorse a gay-friendly children's book August 28
    Legal pressure does not make sterilization moral August 27

    Top Catholic News

    Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
    Pope Francis: welcome with compassion those who have remarried outside the Church CWN - August 5