National Study of Catholic Priests

The Catholic Project at The Catholic University of America is conducting a
National Study of Catholic Priests. The study entailed a census of bishops, a nationally representative survey
of Catholic clergy, and in-depth interviews with priests.
It also includes a census of US Catholic bishops. Initial results were released on October 19, 2022
and further insights were released on November 7, 2023.

Read Further Insights

On October 19, 2022, The Catholic Project released highlights from the largest study of Catholic priests in over 50 years. (Also available in Spanish from La Revista Católica). On November 7, 2023, further insights were released, addressing polarization, generational dynamics, and the ongoing impact of the abuse crisis.

This study involved a census of bishops (131 responses); a survey of 10,000 priests (3516 responses); and in-depth interviews of over 100 priests.

Priests on the whole are doing well, they report significant levels of well-being. However, younger priests display signs of ministry burnout, and diocesan priests are doing less well than those who belong to religious orders. Priests find significant support from their lay friends.

When it comes to trust, there is a broad range of answers to the question, "Do you trust your bishop?" Priests who trust their bishop report higher levels of well-being on all measures, so this is significant.

Priests are supportive of the policies the Church has implemented to combat abuse. However, they are concerned about false allegations and being abandoned by the diocese. 

Methodology and how the data will be used

Catholic University worked with Gallup, an independent research organization, to randomly select and survey Catholic priests in the U.S. on their attitudes related to the clergy sex abuse crisis on the Church. Gallup contacted randomly-selected priests by mail or email.

Research Instruments:

Survey of U.S. Catholic Bishops

Priest Survey Questionnaire

In-Depth Priest Interview Questionnaire

Initial results were released on October 19, 2022 with a presentation on campus.

Why this research is important

There has been proper attention in recent years to the harmful effects of the clergy sex abuse crisis on the Church. But aside from anecdotal accounts we don’t know much about how our priests have been affected by the crisis.  How has it affected your ministry, your sense of vocation, and your trust in bishops? To work effectively toward healing wounds and rebuilding trust, we first need an accurate assessment of the present state of affairs.

Letter of Support from Cardinal Dolan and Cardinal Gregory

Invitation Letter from President John Garvey

Our Research Team

Brandon Vaidyanathan

Christopher Jacobi

Chelsea Kelly

Tricia Bruce

Lead Researcher, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology.

Faculty Profile

Research Associate

Faculty Profile

Assistant Professor

Faculty Profile

Qualitative Project Manager



Stephen White

Executive Director of The Catholic Project