07 November 2008

Catholic College Students and Moral Values

The Cardinal Newman Society just released findings from a survery of students on Catholic campuses regarding their attitudes on moral issues of the faith. The results shouldn't come as any surprise. Any guess what percentage of this group also voted for Obama.

Study Finds Catholic Colleges Have Little Positive Impact on Faith, Values

A groundbreaking survey of Catholic college students published by The Cardinal Newman Society’s (CNS) Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education finds that most students on Catholic campuses reject key Catholic moral values and tenets of the faith, and significant numbers engage in pre-marital sexuality activity and the viewing of pornography.

The study was released in the wake of Tuesday’s presidential election, just as many commentators are looking for reasons why the Catholic vote broke the way it did in such large numbers for a pro-abortion candidate.

It is the only known nationally representative survey of students at Catholic colleges and universities. CNS released a report five years ago, drawing on data from 38 Catholic colleges collected by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute. That study found that students’ support for Catholic teaching on abortion, gay marriage and other issues declined over four years at a Catholic institution.

For the current study, CNS commissioned QEV Analytics, which conducted an analysis of the Catholic vote for Crisis magazine prior to the 2000 presidential election, to conduct the random survey of current and recent students at U.S. Catholic colleges and universities, all between the ages of 18 and 29. QEV President Steven Wagner, a former researcher for the U.S. Information Agency, has conducted studies for several federal agencies and the National Center on Additional and Substance Abuse (CASA).

“Most respondents say that the experience of attending a Catholic institution made no difference in their support for the Catholic Church or its teaching or their participation in Catholic Sacraments,” Wagner writes in his report.

Key findings clearly demonstrate that large numbers of students at Catholic colleges and universities are in clear conflict with the Catholic Church:

Nearly 1 in 5 knew another student who had or paid for an abortion.

46% of current and recent students—and 50% of females—said they engaged in sex outside of marriage.

84% said they had friends who engaged in premarital sex.

60% agreed strongly or somewhat that abortion should be legal.

60% agreed strongly or somewhat that premarital sex is not a sin.

78% disagreed strongly or somewhat that using a condom to prevent pregnancy was a serious sin.

57% agreed strongly or somewhat that same-sex “marriage” should be legal.

57% said the experience of attending a Catholic college or university had no effect on their participation in Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation.

54% of respondents said that their experience of attending a Catholic college or university had no effect on their support for the teachings of the Catholic Church.

56% said their experience had no effect on their respect for the Pope and bishops.

In April 2008 Pope Benedict XVI, recognizing the reality on many Catholic campuses, told Catholic college presidents gathered at The Catholic University of America that the Catholic faith must permeate all aspects of Catholic campus life.

“Is the faith tangible in our universities and schools?” the Holy Father asked the college presidents. “Only in this way do we really bear witness to the meaning of who we are and what we uphold. From this perspective one can recognize that the contemporary ‘crisis of truth’ is rooted in a ‘crisis of faith’.”

The entire CNS study, “Behaviors and Beliefs of Current and Recent Students at U.S. Catholic Colleges,” is available online at http://www.catholichighered.org/. CNS commissioned the study as part of its Love & Responsibility program to encourage Catholic values on life, love and marriage on Catholic campuses.

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