U.S. Catholics and Conservatism

by Michael Potemra

The inspiring pontificate of the soon-to-be-beatified Pope John Paul II did much to restore both the esprit de corps of the Catholic laity worldwide and the strength of doctrinal orthodoxy within that church. John Paul succeeded to such an extent that church liberals are now routinely viewed as yesterday’s men and Seventies dinosaurs; all the energy, and the young people, are on the right. There is, I think, a lot of truth to this portrait. But it does need some nuancing: A new study has found that U.S. Catholics are, by a significant margin, more likely to support gay rights than the general population — and, reports Reuters, “there was a powerful generation gap found in the survey, with Catholics under 35 much more liberal than those 65 and older.” Overall, the Catholics favored civil unions over gay marriage. (The survey also found 60 percent support for adoptions by gay couples. And this is something that has always perplexed me: One of the central, and most culturally resonant, arguments of those who oppose gay marriage is that it’s bad for children: “children deserve a mom and a dad,” etc. So why is support for letting the gays adopt usually higher than support for letting them marry? I find this genuinely baffling.)

H/t the New Oxford Review for pointing out this story, and also a related one: “Jesuit universities to hold conferences on ‘sexual diversity.’” The first will be at New York’s Fordham University, and promises the following: “In contrast to the pronouncements of Catholic church leaders and in addition to the voices of lay and ordained pro-LGBT Catholic activists, this conference aims to lift up a range of voices of American Catholics of all races, genders, social and economic backgrounds, and sexual orientations.” I went to a Jesuit high school, and I think “In contrast to the pronouncements of Catholic church leaders” really goes without saying. (I kid because I love.)

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