Nineteen Sixty-four is a research blog for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University edited by Mark M. Gray. CARA is a non-profit research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church. Founded in 1964, CARA has three major dimensions to its mission: to increase the Catholic Church's self understanding; to serve the applied research needs of Church decision-makers; and to advance scholarly research on religion, particularly Catholicism. Follow CARA on Twitter at: caracatholic.

2.12.2010

Fish Food for Thought

Many fast food restaurants have started their pre-Lent fish sandwich advertising campaigns including Jack in the Box, Wendy’s, and Long John Silver’s. McDonald’s has yet to release a sequel to its memorable 2009 commercials but it has apparently reinvented this as a singing fish decoration (Give me back that filet o' fish, Give me that fish...) available at a retailer near you.

According to estimates from CARA’s national surveys, CARA Catholic Polls (CCP), of the more than 51 million adult Catholics in the United States, 31 million (about six in ten) are expected to abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. Although some may fast and others may choose a vegetarian/vegan option, many will seek out fish on coming Fridays.


Those abstaining from meat are not just the weekly Mass attenders. A majority of Catholics abstaining from meat either attend Mass only a few times a year (25%) or at least once a month, but less than weekly (28%).  However, among the 31 million, 10.5 million attend Mass at least once a week (34%). Of those Catholics who do not abstain from eating meat, 60% "rarely or never" attend Mass.

Of those who do abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent:
  • Nearly nine in ten have celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation (89% compared to 74% who do not abstain)
  • Nearly eight in ten are in a household registered with a Catholic parish (79% compared to 34% who do not abstain)
  • Nearly three in four “agree” that they think of themselves as “a practicing Catholic” (74% compared to 26% who do not abstain)
  • A majority are married (53% compared to 48% who do not abstain)
  • Four in ten say they regularly wear a crucifix or cross (40% compared to 22% who do not abstain)
  • Nearly four in ten self-identify as Hispanic or Latino (39% compared to 36% who do not abstain)
  • Nearly four in ten go to confession at least once a year (38% compared to 7% who do not abstain)
  • One quarter attended a Catholic high school (25% compared to 17% who do not abstain)
  • One in six attended a Catholic college or university (17% compared to 9% who do not abstain)
There are absolutely no generational differences. Catholics both young and old are just as likely to abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent.

When CARA first released survey data regarding Lenten practices in Sacraments Today: Belief and Practice among US Catholics we got a message from one concerned reader who worried about the impact of the tradition of eating fish on Fridays during Lent on the sustainability of the world’s fisheries. Here is an interesting article on this topic specific to McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish from The New York Times: “From Deep Pacific, Ugly and Tasty, With a Catch.”
Instead of going the restaurant chain route, many Catholics craving seafood will likely go to a parish fish fry or a local eatery and get a plate that looks much like the image above. If you are wondering what this means nutritionally there is good news and bad news!

Above photo courtesy of rick at Flickr Creative Commons.

2.01.2010

Longer-term Effects of Attending a Catholic College

Following up on CARA Working Paper #9 regarding the short-term effects of Catholic college attendance (from the freshman to junior years) on the faith lives of Catholic students it is also the case that CARA has conducted a significant amount of research on the long-term effects (throughout life) of attending a Catholic higher education institution.

CARA's has conducted 19 national surveys of self-identified adult Catholics, including more than 21,000 respondents, since 2000. Within these surveys we find many differences between Catholics who attended a Catholic college and those who attended a non-Catholic college (thus, excluding those who did not go to college).

A summary of some of these key differences is provided below. More is available from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU).

Catholics who attended a Catholic college or university are more likely than Catholics who attended a non-Catholic college (public or private) to:
  • Attend Mass every week (34 percent compared to 19 percent)
  • Register with a parish (75 percent compared to 55 percent)
  • To agree that “I seriously consider the Church’s statements, such as those of the Pope and U.S. Bishops on social, political and moral issues” (55 percent compared to 38 percent)
  • To agree that “all human life, from conception to natural death, is sacred. For this reason, the taking of life—whether through abortion, the death penalty, or assisted suicide—is wrong” (53 percent compared to 35 percent)
  • To oppose the death penalty (51 percent compared to 33 percent)
  • To disagree that “a woman should have the right whether or not to abort an unwanted pregnancy” (44 percent compared to 24 percent)
  • To oppose “making it legal for a physician to help a dying person commit suicide” (53 percent compared to 43 percent)
  • To agree that “Catholics have a duty to close the gap between the rich and the poor” (54 percent compared to 38 percent)
  • To agree that “society has a responsibility for helping poor people get out of poverty” (76 compared to 59 percent)
  • To agree that “the United States has a responsibility to take the lead in global peace-building (i.e., non-violent solutions to conflict)” (73 percent compared to 60 percent)
  • To agree that “It is important to me to do what I can do to help poor and needy people in countries outside of the United States” (71 percent compared to 54 percent)
  • To say that, when making political choices, they draw on their Catholic faith either “very much” or “somewhat” (70 percent compared to 55 percent)
  • Among men, those who have attended a Catholic college are more likely to say they considered becoming a priest or brother (43 percent compared to 23 percent)
  • Among women, those who have attended Catholic college are more likely to say they considered becoming a sister or nun (39 percent compared to 20 percent)
Across the board, Catholics who have attended a Catholic college or university are more likely than those who attended a non-Catholic college to respond in a manner that is more consistent with Church teachings and practice.

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