Jessica Hamar Martinez- lectureIn the wake of the Pope’s hugely successful soujourn to the United States, the Institute wanted to take a deeper look at American Catholics’ attitudes and beliefs around Church doctrine, particularly on doctrine concerning women’s role in the church and family life.

On October 1, senior Pew Institute researcher Jessica Martinez presented recent findings on how American Catholics’ ideas and values differ from, or align with, what the Church proscribes.

Martinez, who has served as senior researcher on a number of important Pew studies, was joined by Prof. Diane Winston, USC Knight Chair in Media and Religion at the Annenberg School of Journalism, and Institute President Fr. James Heft, S.M., who served as the evening’s moderator and emcee.

According to Martinez’s research, one in five American adults report Catholicism as their primary religious affiliation, and almost half (45%) of all Americans identify as either Catholic or as significantly connected to the Catholic Church.

American Catholics tend to be more tolerant of of non-traditional family arrangements when compared to Catholics in Latin America, according to the Pew report.

“While American Catholics still overwhelmingly view the traditional concept of the nuclear family — a married mother and father raising children together — as ideal, 84% of American Catholics view unmarried couples who are raising children as acceptable, and 66% view families of lesbian or gay couples as acceptable,” Martinez explained.

In addition, many U.S. Catholics report that they would like to see the Church adopt a more flexible or accepting approach toward people who are divorced, cohabiting with a romantic partner outside marriage or in same-sex relationships. Six in ten respondents believe the Church should start allowing Catholics who are cohabiting, as well as those who have divorced and remarried without obtaining an annulment, to receive Communion (61% and 62%, respectively). And nearly half of Catholics (46%) think the church should recognize same-sex marriages.

The presentation was part of the Institute’s annual Speaker Series. For more information on the series, please call the Institute at 213-740-6284, or click the link on the homepage.

Jim Heft- Jessica Hamar Martinez- lecture