ST. PAUL, Minn. - While one in every four American considers themselves Catholic, a new survey finds "Catholic" may be more of a brand label than a religious identity.
Of the 1,442 Catholics surveyed by the National Catholic Reporter, 88 percent said how a person lives is more important than whether they are Catholic.
"It's recognizing, I think, something that we haven't in the past," said Bernard Brady, chair of the theology department at the University of St. Thomas. "A respect for people of different denominations and other religions, but with that comes a deemphasizing of our own uniqueness or our own distinctiveness."
Brady said Catholicism, like other religions, walks that fine line of acceptance. He says as much as the religion would like to tout itself, it doesn't want to diminish the ideal and religious beliefs of others.
The survey also found that 86 percent said you can disagree with aspects of the church's teachings and still remain loyal to the church.
"I think it's kind of up to each individual to decide what's best for them and what they need in their relationship with God," said Julia Larson, a student at St. Thomas.
And more frequently that relationship is outside of the church. Forty-seven percent, according to the survey, said they attend church less than once a month.
"And you can still lead a Catholic life without going to church, but in order to have the whole aspect of Catholicism, you need to understand why your practicing and part of that is going to church," said St. Thomas student Kelly Collins.
The survey also found the following results for what is taught and learned at church:
• 73% said Jesus' resurrection is very important
• 67% said helping the poor is very important
• 64% said Mary as mother of God is very important
• 40% considered opposition to abortion as very important
• 35% considered opposition to same-sex marriage as very important.
More information about the survey is available on the National Catholic Reporter's website.
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