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

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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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