Survey: Over Half of Catholic Priests More Liberal Than Their Parishioners

According to a recent survey reported on at the Washington Post, just over half of Catholic priests say they are more liberal than their flocks.

The research was featured in Politics and Religion, a peer-reviewed journal published by Cambridge University Press. It was conducted by Professor Mark Chaves, a specialist in the sociology of religion, and sociology postdoctoral research associate Joseph Roso, both of Duke University.

The sample used was from the years 2019 and 2020.

The two researchers found that “only 28% of Catholic priests who lead parishes say their political views are about the same as most people in their churches, and a majority” of 53% “say they are more liberal than most of their people.”

Only 20% of Catholic priests surveyed indicated that they were more conservative than their parishioners. Fourteen percent said they were simply “more conservative” and 6% said they were “much more conservative.”

Chaves and Roso compared this data to other Christian denominations, finding that Catholic clergy were among the most liberal relative to their congregations.

Clergy in Black Protestant and predominantly white evangelical churches are much more likely to be politically aligned with their people than are Catholic or, especially, white mainline Protestant clergy, who often are more liberal than their people. Contrary to media reports suggesting that evangelical clergy are now likely to be less conservative than their people, the vast majority are either politically aligned with, or more conservative than, their members.

Both Catholic and mainline Protestant (excluding Black Protestant churches) clergy were recorded as 53% more liberal, but how this identical percentage broke down was very different.

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