LONDON, Dec. 4, 2013 ( – An extensive survey conducted by YouGov and designed by a leading secular sociologist have found that only small fraction of self-identified Catholics agree with Church teaching on “hot-button” moral issues like contraception, “gay marriage,” abortion and euthanasia. However, the survey also found that among weekly mass attendees, the number who support the Church's teachings is considerably higher.

Altogether 19% of the total 1062 self-identified Catholics surveyed said that abortion ought to be “banned altogether.” That number rose significantly among weekly mass attendees (17% of the total sample of 1062), but still only reached 42%, with another 29% of weekly mass attendees saying that the time limit for when abortion can be legally obtained should be lowered (abortion is currently legal practically on-demand up to 24 weeks gestation in the UK). 

Conducted ahead of the annual Westminster Faith Debates, the poll, designed by sociologist Prof. Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University, compared attitudes of Catholics towards a variety of moral and political issues. It broke the data down into various categories including age, frequency of church attendance and what religious factors influenced the respondents’ life decisions. 


Breaking down the numbers by age groups, 25 percent of the total respondents over 60 years old wanted a full ban on abortion, with that dropping to just 14 percent in the youngest age group of 18-24. Thirty-one percent of older respondents said the legal gestational age limit of 24 weeks for abortion should be lowered, and 22% of the youngest agreed.

The differences between age groups was perhaps most pronounced on the question of same-sex “marriage.” In total, 43% of repondents said gay “marriage” is “wrong,” while 38% said it is “right.” However, 68% of those over 60 said it is “wrong” and only 30% of the youngest Catholics agreed with their elders. Twenty-four percent of Catholics aged 35-39 thought same-sex “marriage” was “wrong” and 22% in that age range said they “don’t know.” 

Among weekly mass attendees, on the other hand, 68% agreed that same-sex “marriage” was wrong. 

Fifty-eight percent of respondents agreed that euthanasia should be legal. Breaking it down by age, 41% of those over 60 said that Britain should retain its law against euthanasia, with 46% saying euthanasia should be allowed. Thirty percent of the 18-24 age group wanted to retain the current law, and 58% wanted a change. The spread was even more broad for the 25-39 age group, with only 22% opposing euthanasia and 62% favouring a change to the law. 

However, among weekly mass attendees, opposition to euthanasia rose to 63%. 

But there was broad agreement across age groups and both practicing and non-practicing Catholics that the government had been wrong to deny charitable status to Catholic adoption agencies who had refused to consider homosexual partners for adoption. Fifty-seven percent of the total agreed that it was wrong. The number of supporters of the agencies jumped to 79% of weekly mass attendees.

When it came to the case of Peter and Hazelmary Bull, the Christian hoteliers who were forced to pay compensation of £3600 to two homosexual men for refusing them a double bed in their B&B, the results were unexpected, and seemingly contradictory. 

When asked a general question about whether B&B owners should be allowed to “refuse accommodation” based on sexuality, 52% said they should not be allowed to do so, with only 37% agreeing that they should. But when asked a more specific question about the real-world case of the elderly Bulls, who have recently said the legal battle will cost them their home and business, the numbers were almost exactly reversed: 56% said it was wrong that the Bulls had to pay damages to the gay couple, and only 34% agreeing that it was right.


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