[CUA Office of Public Affairs]

What Young Catholics Say

June 19, 1998


a.gif (1076 bytes) significant majority of young Catholics ages 20 to 39 say the most essential elements of Catholicism are belief that God is present in the sacraments and helping the poor.

These findings by professors William D. Dinges and Dean R. Hoge are consistent with older Catholics' beliefs about what is as essential or "non-negotiable" about their faith. The national study to determine what young adult Catholics understand to be their Catholic identity was funded by the Lilly Foundation.

Ranking high on the list of 19 elements were beliefs that Christ is present in the Eucharist and devotion to Mary.

The research finding that social and ethical lessons are central to young Catholics' belief systems surprised Hoge, a professor of sociology, who noted that "charitable efforts toward helping the poor" was ranked as more essential than some other parts of the faith.

But William Dinges, associate professor of religion and religious education, noted that commitment to the poor is an important part of the church's social teaching. "Vatican II called for more concrete commitment to the world," he said. "There has been a significant emphasis in religious teachings on social justice issues and helping the poor, and on community service in the Church."

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Revised: June 19, 1998

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The Catholic University of America,
Office of Public Affairs.