Research Featured in The CARA Report

Some of my research on Catholics and political commitment was featured in the Winter 2023 issue of The CARA Report. “Nuances in Support of Catholic Causes” highlights that the polarization gap closes–and for some issues, disappears altogether–as commitment to Catholicism increases.

I broke our sample of 1500 Catholics into those who identified as Democrat or Republican, and then also broke those folks down by whether they were high commitment, medium commitment or low commitment Catholics (“commitment” is a composite variable based on Mass attendance, likelihood of leaving the Catholic Church and how personally important the Catholic Church is to them). I found that, when asked about government funded health insurance, supporting migrating families, and opposing the death penalty–all “Democrat-friendly” issues–both Democrats and Republicans became increasingly supportive of the Catholic position as their Catholic commitment increases (this is less noticeable for Democrats on the health insurance and migration issues, where we’re approaching saturation with the support). On the death penalty issue, the high commitment Catholic support among Republicans was so strong that they actually surpassed the low commitment Democrats! At least more than half of high commitment Catholic Republicans defected from their party and selected the Catholic position for these three issues.

These data show that while the majority of Catholics tend to vote through the thinking of their party, the high commitment Catholics will also consider their faith, so much so that they will break with the party lines. The polarization narrative is not as cut and dry as we often make it out to be (thank goodness!).

All this and more will be featured in a book that Jim Cavendish, Paul Perl and Michele Dillon and I are writing up right now, so stay tuned. Thank you, CARA, for helping our research find its way into the hands of ministers and Catholic leaders who will apply this to their ministries.

Journeying Together…

What a time! It was hope-filled, hard work, inspiring, exhausting, and so much more. I met so many great people and I think we all walked away seeing things differently than when we arrived. As Fr. Frank Cancro said in his homily, “The journey was part of the gift.” I’ll link to any pages that come up later that have resources (including my talk) from the gathering. But for now I’ll share the photo of my working group; Fr. Frank was also our facilitator and–because he is a minister for circuses–he gifted us with these noses. A good way to celebrate together to conclude our steadfast work. Don’t forget, the proceedings report is just below.

Register for Catholic Climate Change Conference

Laudato Si'

It’s not too late to register for an amazing and free conference on Laudato Si’. The conference will run virtually July 13-15 and is co-sponsored by Creighton University and the Catholic Climate Covenant. I have the honor of sharing the opening keynote with Cardinal Blase Cupich. Whether you are new or a seasoned veteran of the climate change issue, there is something for everyone at this event. I hope you can join us!

Coverage of Hispanic Catholic Financial Giving

Image result for cara georgetownMany thanks to the researchers at Georgetown University’s CARA for covering my paper on Latinx Catholic parish stewardship in The CARA Report. Based on interviews with pastors and Hispanic Catholics, this study fills an important gap in the literature on Latinx Catholic giving: We have established that Hispanic Catholics give less than other ethnic and racial groups, but we don’t know why. And if we don’t know why, parishes and dioceses are unable to respond. This paper uncovers the why and concludes by suggesting better practices. The full paper was accepted by American Catholic Studies and I’ll be sure to post it here once it is published. Thanks to CARA’s coverage, a few dioceses and Catholic organizations have reached out to me for the paper and we’re working on getting that accessible soon!

Thank you, CARA, for helping sociologists of Catholicism get our work into the hands of those who can put it to good use! Also, thank you to Villanova University’s Center for Church Management for funding this project!

Appearance on Campus Min Podcast


It was great fun opening the latest season of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association’s podcast with Dr. Mike St. Pierre. Aside from learning about my childhood fascination with human behavior <wink>, you’ll get a great summary of some of the major items covered in my recent qualitative study of Catholic campus ministers (so if you can’t squeeze in the read, download and enjoy it on your commute!).

Conferences and Interviews

Here comes a 2-for-1 post.

11) I had a great time at my alma mater at the Jesuit School of Theology last Thursday. I had a very good meeting with the new GTU president, Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, to hear the projects the GTU is moving forward with. I also got to meet with a first-year doctoral student; look for Porsia’s work on sociology of Catholicism soon! Later that evening I had a beautiful experience at the liturgy remembering the lives of the four American churchwomen. Then I presented, to new and old friends, on studying and ministering to young adult Catholics. The following day I took the train to the Santa Clara Faith Formation Conference and got to give two presentations on my book. Thanks for sponsoring me for this, Paulist Press!

2) If you are a fan of podcasts, NCR just finished a great series on Jewish perspectives of Catholicism. I was included as a sort of capstone of this, weighing in on what an outsider’s perspective can offer, as well as some concluding thoughts on polarization among U.S. Catholics. My interview begins at 25:20.