Catholic World News

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

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%.
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    • 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.