A preliminary report, “What Catholic Women Think About Faith, Conscience, and Contraception,” co-authored by Mary Rice Hasson and Michele M. Hill, offers new data about the views of church-going Catholic women, ages 18-54, on faith, conscience, and contraception. This report is part of a larger research effort called the Women, Faith, and Culture Project.
- 13% of church-going Catholic women completely accept the Church’s teachings on family planning.
- Acceptance of the Church’s teaching on family planning doubles (27%) among young women (aged 18-34) who attend Mass weekly.
- 37% of women who both attend Mass weekly and have been to confession within the past year completely accept Church teachings on family planning.
Take-Away: The more plugged-in a woman is to the Church and the Sacraments, the more likely she is to accept the teaching on family planning.
- 44% of church-going women express a nuanced view of Church teachings on family planning, accepting “parts” but “not all” of those teachings.
- 53% of weekly Mass-goers who accept “parts” but “not all” of Church teachings on family planning say they are receptive to learning more.
- These women expressed interest in learning about the health and relationship benefits of natural family planning as well as its effectiveness.
Take-Away: Many Catholic women don’t fully accept the Church’s teaching but are open to learning more. Given two-thirds are already involved in parish life, they are reachable. Encouraging!
Points of Concern
- 85% of Catholic women believe they can be “good Catholics” even if they don’t completely accept Church’s teachings on sex and reproduction.
- 53% of women who reject the Church’s teaching on contraception claim a personal “right” to decide the issue.
- Up to one-third of Catholic women are simply mistaken about what the Church actually teaches about family planning.
Report co-author Hasson notes the Church is missing a prime opportunity to communicate persuasively its teachings on family planning. Although 72% of church-going Catholic women rely on the Sunday homily as their primary source of learning about Church teaching, just 15% of these women fully accept Church teaching on contraception.
Co-author Michele Hill notes, “Nine out of ten Catholic women say their faith is important to their daily lives. They want to be good Catholics. Many of them will be receptive to Church teaching, given the right message and the right approach. I can’t encourage our priests enough to present the Church’s beautiful teachings — gently, but with conviction.”
Conversation Starter: There is a receptive group of women in the “soft middle” who are open to learning more about the Church’s teaching on family planning. How can the Church better engage Catholic women who do support Her teachings with those who aren’t “all in?” You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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