US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Chicago: A Catholic kind of town

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Chicago priest Father Andrew Greeley's latest study, a first-of-its-kind focus on Chicago Catholics, reveals a surprisingly vibrant Catholic community--though not one that would please purists, according to the Chicago Tribune. Chicago's Catholics rank belief in Christ's resurrection (94 percent) as the most important thing that identifies a Catholic, with belief in Christ's presence in the Eucharist and sacraments, and giving money to the poor following close behind (75 percent). Seventy-eight percent of respondents said that Catholicism was either "very" or "extremely" important in their lives. The study was based on in-depth interviews with 524 Catholics in the two-county Chicago archdiocese.

Futher down the list are weekly Mass attendance and adherence to the church's sexual teaching (no big surprise), with many people complaing that Mass is "boring" (35 percent), noting especially the poor quality of the preaching (44 percent). (Preachers take note!) Surprisingly, on 37 percent of respondents said adhering to the church's strict teaching on abortion was necessary to be a good Catholic. (More info on Andy Greeley's blog.)

The sex abuse crisis hasn't done major damage among many Catholics; highest ratings got to parish priests, but the pope and Chicago's Francis George (86 percent approval rating) get high marks as well.

Greeley, who suffered a debilitating skull fracture in 2008 that effectively ended his academic career, had just completed analysis of his data before the accident. Rather than calling his fellow Chicago Catholics "Cafeteria Catholics," he called them "smorgasbord Catholics, [who find] a rich and diverse collection of ways to affirm one's Catholicism."

Sounds like sweet home Chicago to me.