Monday, September 18, 2006

Majority of U.S. Catholics are "Pro-Choice"



I was surprised to learn that most Catholics in the U.S. support legal abortion.

Other interesting facts:
Catholic women have abortions at the same rate as women in the population as a whole. In a study of more than 10,000 women over the age of 17 obtaining abortions, 27% were Catholic. Catholics make up almost 25% of the population.
–Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2002
96% of sexually active Catholic women above the age of 18 have used a modern method of contraception.
–2002 National Survey of Family Growth, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Less than 2% of sexually active Catholic women use church-approved family planning methods.
–2002 National Survey of Family Growth, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
58% of Catholics believe that birth control should be available to 14-16 year-olds, even if their parents
do not approve.

–General Social Survey, Cumulative Data File, 1972-2004
93% of Catholics support the use of condoms to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
–2002 National Survey of Family Growth


Out of touch much, Catholic Church?

The Facts Tell the Story: Catholics and Choice (pdf) from Catholics for a Free Choice.

See also their campaign to Ask Pope Benedict XVI to Lift the Ban on Condoms:

"A change in Vatican policy is critical. You can’t keep talking about a culture of life and turn a blind eye to the suffering and dying. You can’t tell people to love and care for one another and deny them the means by which to protect each other," said Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice and founder of Condoms4Life. "More than two dozen bishops and bishops' conferences have asked for a change. Catholic people get it. People spending their lives fighting this pandemic get it. Lifting this cruel and stigmatizing ban on condoms would be a positive and life-affirming move for this new pope."

13 comments:

CyberKitten said...

Catholics do seem to be very.... pragmatic don't they?

skcorefil said...

If the Church dervied its authority from the people, it would be out of touch. I don't understand what your post is trying to say posting statistics about what people think. I think at one point you stated that "people are stupid"

Jewish Atheist said...

skcorefil:

I don't understand what your post is trying to say posting statistics about what people think.

I was just surprised. I knew that Catholics until recently tended to vote Democratic, but I didn't realize how many opposed the Church's most well-known teachings. For all their pomp and self-congratulation, it seems the Church -- or at least its outdated sexual code of ethics -- isn't all that relevant for millions of Catholics.

Just another example of the extremist minority getting all the attention, I guess.

CyberKitten said...

JA said: For all their pomp and self-congratulation, it seems the Church -- or at least its outdated sexual code of ethics -- isn't all that relevant for millions of Catholics.

I think that its been that way for decades for many Catholics. Some of the rules laid down by the Church are clearly nuts. Therefore Catholics will view them as guidelines rather then absolute injunctions. Just goes to show that they're actually not robots after all!

Well done I say.

Random said...

"Out of touch much, Catholic Church?"

You seem to be under the impression that the Catholic Church is a democracy, with an obligation to reflect the views of it's congregants. It's not - it's very much a hierarchical organisation with a clear view that revealed truth is not a matter of opinion polls. On matters of doctrine, it's not the church's job to defer to the laity - it's their job to defer to the heirarchy. "Roma locutus est, causa finis est" and all that.

If they don't like it there are are plenty of other churches that do not feel obliged to follow the lead of Rome after all. I am not a Catholic myself, but I have to say I don't feel much sympathy for people who feel they are entitled to have their cake and eat it.

As for the condom thing, I've said it before and I'll say it again - it's not the Church's job to make sinning easy and safe. It's the Church's job to fight sin. The Church does not "deny them the means by which to protect each other," it just denies them the means to sin without consequence. The Church preaches the need to ahere to a strict policy of celibacy outside marriage and total fidelity inside it. You may think this is unfair and unrealistic if you wish, but the fact remains that anyone who adheres to it will almost certainly never catch AIDS through sexual transmission. Which I thought was the point?

Jewish Atheist said...

Random:

On matters of doctrine, it's not the church's job to defer to the laity - it's their job to defer to the heirarchy. "Roma locutus est, causa finis est" and all that.

I know that's what they think. I happen to think they're wrong. And apparently most Catholics agree with me.

As for the condom thing, I've said it before and I'll say it again - it's not the Church's job to make sinning easy and safe. It's the Church's job to fight sin.

That's their job? Why isn't it their job to use their power to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS?

The Church preaches the need to ahere to a strict policy of celibacy outside marriage and total fidelity inside it. You may think this is unfair and unrealistic if you wish, but the fact remains that anyone who adheres to it will almost certainly never catch AIDS through sexual transmission. Which I thought was the point?

It's not just my opinion that it's "unfair and realistic." It's a fact that their policies and influence contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Random said...

"I know that's what they think. I happen to think they're wrong. And apparently most Catholics agree with me."

Something which you, as a non-Catholic, are perfectly entitled to do. However they, as self-described Catholics, are not. Speaking bluntly - they knew what the deal was when they signed up. If they're not prepared to adhere to Catholic doctrine, they should stop claiming to be Catholics.

"It's not just my opinion that it's "unfair and realistic." It's a fact that their policies and influence contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS."

This I find difficult to believe. This sounds like a claim that AIDS is more widespread in areas where the Catholic Church is strong than areas where it is weak - do you have any evidence to back up such an assertion? Bluntly, surely the only people who are likely to be negatively affected by the Church's position on this are those who accept the Church's teachings on condoms but reject its teaching on sexual morality? A fairly small group, surely?

(Okay, there's another group - those who rely on Catholic charities for healthcare but are not themselves Catholics. That however is surely an argument in favour of non-Catholics stepping up their own efforts rather than calling on the Church to abandon its principles?)

Amazed at the speed of your reply BTW - I always assumed the timestamps on these posts was your timezone, in which case it's very diligent of you to be blogging at 4:29 in the morning!:-)

Jewish Atheist said...

Random:

Something which you, as a non-Catholic, are perfectly entitled to do. However they, as self-described Catholics, are not. Speaking bluntly - they knew what the deal was when they signed up. If they're not prepared to adhere to Catholic doctrine, they should stop claiming to be Catholics.

I disagree. Why does the church get to define what a Catholic is? Seems to me that if a majority of Catholics think you can be Catholic and pro-life, then you can be Catholic and pro-life.

This sounds like a claim that AIDS is more widespread in areas where the Catholic Church is strong than areas where it is weak - do you have any evidence to back up such an assertion

Africa.

In addition to insisting that there is no room within Catholic theology to allow the compassionate use of condoms, officials of the Catholic church have repeatedly tried to cast doubt on the effectiveness of condoms in fighting AIDS. In Kenya, even as the government belatedly declared that the AIDS epidemic was reaching crisis levels, Catholic Bishop John Njue propagated false scientific information by claiming that condoms are to blame for the spread of AIDS.38 Shortly after AIDS was declared a national emergency in the country and the government officially embraced the use of condoms to curb the epidemic—over the loud objections of the Catholic church—a member of the Kenyan Parliament called the church “the greatest impediment in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”39 The impact of the church is so great that Paul Delay, who heads USAID’s AIDS programs, said the agency has asked the Catholic church not to say anything about condoms “if you can’t say anything nice,” particularly in regard to casting doubts on the effectiveness of condoms.40

In 1997, a doctor who is a member of the Vatican Council for the Family said that using condoms will not prevent HIV infection. Father Jacques Suaudeau wrote in the journal Medicina e Morale,”Using a condom to protect yourself against HIV amounts to playing Russian roulette.”41 A report from the National Institutes of Health in the United States recently confirmed the predominant medical opinion that “consistent and correct condom use prevents...HIV infection.”42 Despite medical opinion confirming the use of condoms to prevent HIV, it seems as if the church’s anti-condom propaganda may be winning converts. A recent survey conducted by the Kenyan Media Institute found that 54% of Kenyans do not believe that condoms are effective in preventing HIV and that “condoms encourage immorality, which exposes people to the risk of contracting the virus.”43

In Africa and around the world the hierarchy of the Catholic church has worked actively to suppress condom use, education and distribution. In 1996, the local Roman Catholic church in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, prevented the distribution of one million condoms by health and election officials at polling stations during a primary election. Honduras has the highest incidence of AIDS in Central America.44 That same year, in Nairobi, Kenya, Cardinal Maurice Otunga, Kenya’s leading Roman Catholic church official, burned boxes of condoms and safe sex literature.45 After Brazil launched an innovative AIDS prevention program that stressed the need for the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, Brazilian Roman Catholic officials criticized the program for not stressing abstinence. Cardinal Eugenio Sales of Rio de Janeiro said the campaign would stimulate sexual activity, thereby spreading AIDS.46 Just this year in Zambia, health officials withdrew a hard-hitting anti-AIDS campaign that urged safe sex and condom use after the church complained that it promoted promiscuity.47
(Condoms for Life)

Amazed at the speed of your reply BTW - I always assumed the timestamps on these posts was your timezone, in which case it's very diligent of you to be blogging at 4:29 in the morning!:-)

"Diligent" is one way to put it. ;-) It was one of those nights where I woke up in the middle of the night and decided to sit down at the computer "for a bit."

Random said...

"I disagree. Why does the church get to define what a Catholic is? Seems to me that if a majority of Catholics think you can be Catholic and pro-life, then you can be Catholic and pro-life."

Eh? As I said above, you seem to labouring under the misapprehension that the Church is (or at least should be) a democracy. The first certainly isn't true and the latter arguably shouldn't be. Let me rephrase what you are saying to show what I mean:

"I disagree. Why does the scientific community get to define what science is? Seems to me that if a majority of people think you can be a scientist and believe in young-earth creationism, then you can be a scientist and believe in young-earth creationism."

Now do you see what I'm getting at? I suspect you wouldn't accept your logic if it was used this way, so it really shouldn't be used the way you are using it either. And yes, I know what the likely comeback is going to be - but as an atheist you are entitled to dissent from the Church and formulate your own views on spiritual matters, but a communicant of the Catholic Church has far less freedom to do so if they still wish to remain in communion, just as somebody who claims to find human footprints next to dinosaur ones will eventually cease to be regarded as a member of the scientific community.

"This sounds like a claim that AIDS is more widespread in areas where the Catholic Church is strong than areas where it is weak - do you have any evidence to back up such an assertion.

Africa."

Okay, first of all I think we can assume that "Condoms for Life" is hardly an impartial organisation, but I would agree that people who are actively spreading untruths should be called on it (if prelates believe that condom use is objectively wrong they should oppose it on those grounds, not make dubious claims about it not being effective). That said, lets look at some statistics. The following is the list of the top ten countries most affected by AIDS in Africa (and the world), with percentages for the number of AIDS victims (first number) and the number of Catholics (second number):

Swaziland
38.8%
5.35%
Botswana
37.3%
4.94%
Lesotho
28.9%
70%
Zimbabwe
24.6%
7.71%
South Africa
21.5%
6.43%
Namibia
21.3%
16.95%
Zambia
16.5%
26.31%
Malawi
14.2%
19.57%
Central African Republic
13.5%
23%
Mozambique
12.2%
22.23%

As you can see, with the admitted exception of Lesotho (probably due to that country's close economic dependency on South Africa) a near perfect inverse correlation - i.e. the more Catholics you have, the less AIDS. Your thesis - that the Church is actively damaging the fight against AIDS - is at best unproven in other words and quite possibly actively refuted by the evidence on the ground.

Jewish Atheist said...

As I said above, you seem to labouring under the misapprehension that the Church is (or at least should be) a democracy. The first certainly isn't true and the latter arguably shouldn't be.

I'm not saying any of that. Just pointing out the the Church is out of step with a majority of its American "followers."

Let me rephrase what you are saying to show what I mean:

"I disagree. Why does the scientific community get to define what science is? Seems to me that if a majority of people think you can be a scientist and believe in young-earth creationism, then you can be a scientist and believe in young-earth creationism."


If a majority of scientists believed in YEC, then perhaps you could be a scientist and believe in YEC. Similarly, if a majority of Catholics are pro-life, it seems you can be a pro-life Catholic.

The church may think it gets its authority from God Almighty Himself, but I don't see why I should let them define what a Catholic is when most people who consider themselves "Catholic" disagree.

The following is the list of the top ten countries most affected by AIDS in Africa (and the world), with percentages for the number of AIDS victims (first number) and the number of Catholics

That is indeed interesting, but I'm not sure it shows what you want it to show. First of all, obviously *being* Catholic would have a strong effect on HIV/AIDS because of lifestyle differences as well as (I assume) degree of poverty and education. Second, it may even be true that the Church does more good than harm. However, this doesn't mean that it couldn't do more good and less harm
through allowing condom usage in countries where HIV/AIDS is out of control.

I'm glad you agree that prominent members of the Church should stop lying about condoms. That would be a good first step. I presume you'd also agree that prominent Church members shouldn't be burning stockpiles of condoms either. But why do you think it's ok for them to pressure countries and other nonprofits to withdraw their messages about condoms as well as condoms themselves?

Irviner Chasid said...

2 very important points here.

1. This is American Catholics... there are something like 1 billion catholics in the world, and only 10 million of them are in America. Catholics in other countries may hold differetn views.

2. Ofcourse the Church defines who a catholic is, and not the other way around. I don't define who the N.Y Yankees are as a fan, the N.Y. Yankees define who is a N.Y. yankee.

Skcorefil said...

http://ncronline.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2006a/032406/032406h.htm

The majority of people who claim to be Catholic also approve of torture. That also is somewhat of a pragmatic stance to have.

Is the church out of touch and should change its position on that issue too?

Religion and morality really aren't and really shouldn't be democracies subject to popular opinion. It doesn't make them out of touch or silly.

Anonymous said...

Folks i realise i'm far far behind everyone on commentin on this but I wondered if anyone was still around to clear up an issue I had in my mind.

The Church in all their compassion are supposed to forgive those who sincerely repent ?

Thus my scenario... A person, human as they are sins as a teenager and has sex with somone before marraige. They are unlucky and as a result contract HIV. They take the anti retro-viral medication and live as relatively healthy carriers of the virus.

Later they find the person they love and are supposed to be with and they marry.

Would the Church either say that:
- This person can never be forgiven for their earlier sin and should not be allowed to marry

- As a result of the earlier sin they can marry but may never engage in sexual activity with their spouse

- They may engage in sexual activity with their spouse with the Church's blessing, only to use a condom is still forbidden so to engage in such activity would effectively be condeming their spouse to AIDS and subsequent pain and death

or

- That in some situations, a condom is the best course of action, not only the lesser evil but the morally correct choice?

Just wondering? If anyone still reads this I would love to hear what they think .