Polarization, Generational Dynamics, & the Ongoing Impact of the Abuse Crisis
Further Insights from the National Study of Catholic Priests
Brandon Vaidyanathan, Ph.D., Christopher Jacobi, Ph.D., Chelsea Rae Kelly, Ph.D., Tricia Bruce, Ph.D., Stephen White, Sara PerlaRead the Study
On November 7, 2023, The Catholic Project released further insights from the National Study of Catholic Priests. This study involved a census of bishops; a survey of 10,000 priests (3516 responses); and in-depth interviews of over 100 priests.
The three themes which are the focus for this report are:
How does the increasing polarization of American society play out in the priesthood? How do priests’ views on theological or political issues affect the way they relate to one another and to their bishops? How do priests’ political views affect how they relate to one another or to their bishops? How much does trust differ among dioceses?
How do priests who were ordained in the 1970s differ from newly-ordained priests? How do priests who were ordained before the sexual abuse crisis in 2002 differ from those who were ordained after it? How do the various generations within the priesthood view one another?
Ongoing Impact of the Abuse Crisis
How many of today’s priests experienced sexual abuse, harassment, or misconduct while they were in the seminary? How many survivors of abuse have priests met and ministered to? How do priests understand their role in restoring trust after the crisis?