Poll: U.S. Catholics lean left on social issues

American Catholics are more liberal than the general population on social issues like divorce and homosexuality, despite the Catholic Church’s longstanding conservatism on both issues, according to a new survey.

Catholics are more likely than non-Catholics to say that homosexual relations, divorce, and heterosexual sex outside wedlock are morally acceptable, according to an analysis by Gallup pollsters released on Monday.

FAITH & REASON: On abortion, stem cells: Bishops + politicians = boycotts? In other areas, Catholics are nearly identical to the population at large. For example, 4 in 10 Catholics say abortion is "morally acceptable," compared to 41% of all Americans. And 63% back embryonic stem cell research, compared to 62% overall.

Catholics who attend church regularly hew more closely to church doctrine, but are still more liberal on many issues than non-Catholic regular church attendees.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Massachusetts | Catholic Church | Gallup | Bishops

Twenty-four percent of Catholics who attend Mass regularly say abortion is morally acceptable, compared to 19% of non-Catholic regular attendees. And more than half of Catholic regular worshippers say the same about embryonic stem cell research, compared to 45% of non-Catholic worshippers.

The Gallup survey was based on interviews with 3,022 Catholics adults conducted in May of 2006, 2007 and 2008. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.



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