The political views and position on social issues for most U.S. Catholics are not significantly influenced by church leadership or official doctrine, according to a report published June 2 by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago.
“The attitudes of many conservative Catholic bishops in the United States are not shared by most Catholics,” the report said. “A majority of lay Catholics support abortion rights, oppose denying Communion to politicians who support abortion rights, and favor greater inclusion of LGBT people.”
Overall, only 12% of U.S. Catholics say the church has “a lot” of influence on how they view social issues and only 8% say “a lot” of influence on their political views. The numbers increase notably to 23% and 16%, respectively, among Catholics who attend Mass at least monthly.
The Roman Catholic Church opposes abortion for any reason, and some Catholic bishops have suggested that communion should be withheld from those with pro-choice views.
Recently, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops published guidance on such matters, a move that some interpreted as a rebuke of President Joe Biden and other Catholic political leaders who support abortion rights.
Despite the church’s official position, a majority (64%) of all U.S. Catholics say that abortion should be legal — 28% “in all cases” and 36% “in most cases.” By comparison, 36% say it should be illegal — 27% “in most cases” and 9% “in all cases.”
Catholic Democrats (83%) are far more likely than Catholic Republicans (41%) to say abortion should be illegal.
In addition, most U.S. Catholics are not in favor of bishops withholding communion to Catholics: 77% say LGBTQ Catholics, 76% those who “disagree with the church’s position on the death penalty,” 70% those who remarry without an annulment, and 66% those “Catholic politicians who disagree with the church’s position on abortion” should receive communion.