Is Homosexuality in the Priesthood Diminishing? Evidence from Sexual Attitudes, Behaviors, and Contexts of Catholic Clergy in the United States

32 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2021

See all articles by Mark D. Regnerus

Mark D. Regnerus

University of Texas at Austin - Population Research Center

Stephen Cranney

Institute for the Studies of Religion, Baylor University

Brad Vermurlen

The University of Texas at Austin

Date Written: October 28, 2021

Abstract

This study explores the results of the 2021 Survey of American Catholic Priests, an effort to replicate the 2002 Los Angeles Times survey of priests, in evaluating stability and change in the sexual beliefs, dispositions, and behaviors of Catholic priests in the United States. Reinforcing widespread perceptions, we find that younger priests hold more conservative sexual attitudes than their older counterparts. We also find them to be less likely to report homosexual attraction, and we perform a very basic projection of the future sexual orientation composition of the US clergy using baseline assumptions and a cohort replacement model. We find that orientation and orthodoxy are intertwined, with heterosexual priests reporting higher celibacy adherence and belief that behaviors identified by the Church as sins are in fact sins. Our analyses further suggest that the present lower clergy supply is largely explicable by a decline in progressive priests.

Keywords: Catholicism, Clergy, Religion

Suggested Citation

Regnerus, Mark D. and Cranney, Stephen and Vermurlen, Brad, Is Homosexuality in the Priesthood Diminishing? Evidence from Sexual Attitudes, Behaviors, and Contexts of Catholic Clergy in the United States (October 28, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3951940 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3951940

Mark D. Regnerus

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

University of Texas
Austin, TX 78712
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

Brad Vermurlen

The University of Texas at Austin ( email )

United States

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