June 26, 2013

Many American Catholics at odds with Vatican on homosexuality


Four-in-ten Catholics say there is “a lot” of conflict between their personal religious beliefs and homosexuality.

Pope Francis caused a bit of a stir recently when he reportedly made a reference to a “gay lobby” that exists inside the Vatican during a private meeting with the leaders of a Latin American religious group. Coverage of the comment in the press and in social media underscored the sensitivities that persist among Catholics on issues related to homosexuality.

While the Catholic Church officially maintains that homosexual relations are sinful, many Catholics in the U.S. have a more accepting view. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that more than seven-in-ten U.S. Catholics (71%) say homosexuality should be accepted by society. Just a third (33%) say they believe homosexual behavior is a sin, down from nearly half who said this in 2003. However, fully half (54%) of American Catholics say there is at least some conflict between their personal religious beliefs and homosexuality, with 42% saying there is “a lot” of conflict.

The conflict over religion and homosexuality spills over into the views of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population toward the Catholic Church. A recent Pew Research survey of the LGBT community found that nearly eight-in-ten LGBT adults (79%) perceive the Catholic Church as unfriendly toward them, 16% say it is neutral and just 4% say it is friendly.

Among LGBT Catholics in particular, two-thirds (66%) say the church is unfriendly toward them, while 26% say it is neutral and just 6% see it as friendly. LGBT Protestants and those who are religiously unaffiliated are more negative in their perceptions of the Catholic Church, with 74% of the Protestants and 84% of the unaffiliated saying the Catholic Church is unfriendly toward them.

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism

  1. Photo of Michael Lipka

    is a senior editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.


  1. abb3w4 years ago

    I suspect (based on the GSS data) that the more accepting Catholics also tend more common among those who do not attend services as frequently as the Catholic norm, and among those who do not consider themselves as strongly religious.

    Incidentally, the residual trace of Catholic opposition to interracial marriage also appears concentrated among the strongly religious, but no immediately clear trend regarding the attentive.

  2. Julia4 years ago

    The fact that most Catholics also take a pragmatic approach to lying, cheating, lusting, gluttony, gossiping, ignoring the poor, and any number of other sins, should not change the church’s teaching on the matter.

    The only scandal mentioned is the scandal of unfaithful, fallible Catholics; there is no scandal in a Church that following what it believes to be God’s consistent teaching rather than going with the flow on the latest moral fads.

  3. Chuck Anziulewicz4 years ago

    As someone who was raised in the Catholic Church. went to CCD classes, and sang in the choir, I can tell you that Catholics at the grassroots level tend to be a pretty progressive and easygoing bunch. They are more interested in making pragmatic value judgments rather than clinging wistfully to official Vatican doctrines, especially those having to do with contaception and sexual orientation.