Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 22, 1960 when ground was broken for St. Philip Church, East Windsor.
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey

20160808T1310 0917 CNS SISTERS LETTER CIVILITY 800Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is seen in Philadelphia July 26. (CNS photo/Dominick Reuter, Reuters

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholics, by and large, haven't heard endorsements for one presidential candidate over the other while in the pews this presidential election season.

But they reported they have heard about religious liberty, abortion, immigration and the environment as among the topics coming from the pulpit, according to a survey released Aug. 8 by the Pew Research Center in Washington.

Just one out of 10 or fewer Catholics "say their clergy have publicly supported or opposed particular candidates," reported the Pew center in its survey conducted online and by mail June 5-July 7 among a national sample of 4,602 adults who say they attended religious services at least once or twice in the few months before the poll was conducted.

Catholics reported that clergy spoke mostly in favor of and against certain issues. About 38 percent of Catholics surveyed said clergy addressed religious liberty from the pulpit, with 32 percent reporting that they heard a defense of it. Two percent reported hearing from their religious leaders that they don't believe religious liberty is "under attack." Another 5 percent said they heard both points of views.

Abortion is another topic Catholics said they heard about from the pulpit. About 3 in 10 Catholics said they "recently heard clergy speak out against abortion" during Mass, while 1 to 2 percent said they heard "clergy speak in support of abortion rights."

Two other topics reportedly heard about during Mass included immigration and the environment.

About a third of Catholic churchgoers said they "have heard clergy speak out about the need to be welcoming and supportive of immigrants in recent months," and about 3 percent reported hearing clergy talk "about a need for stricter immigration enforcement," according to the survey.

The survey also questioned Protestants, evangelicals and other Christians about the same topics, and while some responses showed similarities, the environment and its defense by Catholic clergy seemed to stand out, perhaps in a nod to the pope's encyclical on the environment released in 2015.

About 31 percent of Catholics said they heard the environment mentioned by clergy at Mass, the highest percentage of any other group surveyed, with 24 percent reporting that they heard leaders speak of "the need to protect the environment" and less than 1 percent said they heard clergy speak "against environmental regulations."

Of the Catholics who said they heard a leader speak in favor of or against particular candidates for president, 5 percent said they heard leaders support Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and less than 1 percent heard support for Republican Donald Trump.

Those who say they heard leaders speak against a presidential candidate said they heard 2 percent of clergy speak against Mrs. Clinton and 7 percent speak against Mr. Trump.

Other issues surveyed included homosexuality and economic inequality. About 8 percent of Catholics said they heard clergy speak against homosexuality from the pulpit and 13 percent said they heard clergy encourage acceptance of gays and lesbians.

On the issue of economic inequality, 14 percent said they heard religious leaders speak of "the problem of economic inequality," while 4 percent said they heard clergy speak in defense of capitalism or free markets.

The margin of error for the entire sample was plus or minus 2.3 percentage points. For church-going Catholic respondents, it was plus or minus 6.8 percentage points.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.