Introducing the 2021 Survey of American Catholic Priests: Overview and Selected Findings

26 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2021

See all articles by Brad Vermurlen

Brad Vermurlen

The University of Texas at Austin

Stephen Cranney

Institute for the Studies of Religion, Baylor University; Catholic University of America (CUA)

Mark D. Regnerus

University of Texas at Austin - Population Research Center

Date Written: October 28, 2021

Abstract

This manuscript introduces the 2021 Survey of American Catholic Priests (SACP), a data- gathering initiative which resulted in a new dataset containing responses to 54 survey questions from 1,036 Catholic priests in the United States. Replicating questions from a 2002 poll of Catholic priests from the Los Angeles Times allowed us to assess changes over time. Here, we present selected findings in eight areas: summary comparisons, morale, moral assessments, relationships to and evaluations of bishops, salvation exclusivism, perceptions of the conservatism or liberalism of younger priests, approval of Pope Francis, and the state of the Catholic Church in America. We find strong empirical confirmation of the nearly ubiquitous perception that younger priests are more orthodox in their beliefs than older priests. Additionally, we find a significant turn toward pessimism regarding the current state and trajectory of the Church. Other patterns and opportunities for further analyses are discussed.

Keywords: Catholicism, Clergy, Religion

Suggested Citation

Vermurlen, Brad and Cranney, Stephen and Regnerus, Mark D., Introducing the 2021 Survey of American Catholic Priests: Overview and Selected Findings (October 28, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3951931 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3951931

Brad Vermurlen

The University of Texas at Austin ( email )

United States

Stephen Cranney (Contact Author)

Institute for the Studies of Religion, Baylor University ( email )

School of Engineering & Computer Science
Waco, TX 76798
United States

Catholic University of America (CUA) ( email )

116 McMahon Hall
Washington, DC 20064
United States

Mark D. Regnerus

University of Texas at Austin - Population Research Center ( email )

University of Texas
Austin, TX 78712
United States

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