A new survey of global Catholics published to coincide with the Synod on Youth has found a majority of respondents believe church teaching on LGBT issues should be reconsidered for the well-being of young people.
The survey, released by the coalition group Equal Future 2018, found that 65% of baptized Catholics worldwide and 63% of practicing Catholics believe the church “should reconsider its current teaching on LGBT issues to help support the mental health and well-being of children and young people.” Other findings included:
- 56% of baptized Catholics and 49% of practicing Catholics believe current teachings on LGBT issues could cause a young person to feel that being LGBT “is a misfortune or disappointment.” Just 20% and 26% respectively disagreed with this claim.
- 51% of baptized Catholics and 49% of practicing Catholics affirm the statement that such an understanding could damage a young person’s health and well-being. Again, just 25% and 26% respectively disagreed.
- These numbers all are within a close range of how the general population responds to each respective question.
The survey polled 9,606 respondents from the world’s eight largest Catholic nations, representing half of the world’s total population of baptized Catholics. These nations are Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Philippines, United States, France, Spain, and Italy. Equal Future 2018, which commissioned the study, is a coalition of LGBT, progressive religious, young people’s and other groups drawing from 60-plus countries which is concerned with the impact on young people of negative LGBT views. [Editor’s note: New Ways Ministry is part of the coalition.]
Tiernan Brady, campaign director for Equal Future 2018, commented on the survey results:
“These poll findings are a clarion call to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church from its members that it is time to change their approach to LGBT people. The people of the Catholic Church are leading the way on LGBT issues and it is time the upper management caught up with their flock. . .This is not a call for change from outside the Church – it is from its own people.”
Equal Future 2018 released the survey results in Rome to coincide with the Synod on Youth this month, which is in its final days. Brady called the synod a “critical opportunity” to consider the damage LGBT-negative views do to young people. He added, “It would be an incredible oversight and rebuke of the faithful and of young people if it does not address the damage done to children and young people by LGBT stigma.”
Interestingly, there were significant variations in how respondents from different countries answered. Just 49% of U.S. baptized Catholics believe church teaching should be reconsidered, the lowest rate of the eight nations,. Support in the U.S. drops to 39% among practicing Catholics. Support among the general U.S. population was the lowest as well at 45%. A full third of U.S. practicing Catholics disagreed with reconsideration, which was ten percentage points above the next highest disagreement rate, which came out of Brazil.
Baptized Spanish Catholics were most likely to agree with a reconsideration of church teaching at 77%, while Mexico led in terms of practicing Catholic support at 68%. Support in the Philippines for reconsideration of teachings was 70% among practicing Catholics with just 8% disagreeing, the lowest rate.
These national breakdowns are interesting because they reveal lower levels of support in countries like the U.S. and France which have more advanced LGBT civil rights whereas countries with less developed rights and which are more traditionally-Catholic, like the Philippines, were more supportive of reconsidering church teaching.
Overall, Equal Future 2018’s survey findings are quantitative support for the qualitative and anecdotal evidence which many Catholics know well: in increasing numbers worldwide, Catholics support LGBT equality not in spite of their faith, but because of their faith. Synod delegates should study these findings as one of several sources helping them see that Catholics worldwide, not just in Western nations and not just young people, want change and inclusion on LGBT issues, and they want it now.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, October 25, 2018