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.
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.