Chicago Catholics Keeping the Faith

Poll finds younger parishoners are more devout than older generations.

Despite the clergy sex abuse scandal and other ideological clashes within the Roman Catholic Church, the faith is still very strong with Chicago-area Catholics, says one of the country’s preeminent Catholic scholars.

The Rev. Andrew Greeley, a prolific priest, sociologist and author is releasing a study based on a 2007 poll of more than 500 Catholics in Cook and Lake counties which says their faith is still burning brightly, reports the Chicago Tribune.

In “Chicago Catholics and the Struggles Within Their Church” Greely reports that 78 percent of respondents said Catholicism is either “extremely important” or “very important” in their lives.

The study found that parishioners gave a higher approval rating for their local priests than Cardinal Francis George, or even the Pope; and in many respects 20 and 30-somethings are more devout than older generations.

Greeley wrote that the survey found “two separate Catholic identities— an imaginative, story-telling identity and a rules identity,” reports the Tribune. 

The study also discusses “Cafeteria Catholics,” those who still revere the sacraments, but don’t blindly follow the church's teachings on moral, religious and political issues.

The poll was conducted by the Survey Lab at the University of Chicago in 2007. 

The book will likely be Greeley's last published work.  He continues to recover from a serious brain injury sustained in an accident with a taxi cab two years ago.

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