top of page

Majority of US Catholics Want Women Priests

Updated: May 17

Pew survey shows shocking shift in Catholic attitudes to gay marriage

A majority of American Catholics want the Church to allow contraception, married priests, women priests, and to recognize the marriages of homosexual couples, a Pew Research Center survey has found.


The comprehensive survey, which was published Friday, revealed that 75% percent of US Catholics view Pope Francis favorably, down eight percentage points from 2021, and 15 points below his peak favorability rating, which was 90% in 2015.


Communion for Catholics in Mortal Sin

In a radical departure from Catholic moral teaching, 75% say the Church should allow Catholics to receive Holy Communion even if they are living in mortal sin by cohabiting with a sexual partner, a nationally-representative sample of 12,693 respondents found.  


While 54% of Catholics want the Church to recognize “homosexual marriage,” 83% of the respondents insisted on dropping the prohibition on artificial birth control.


When it comes to the priesthood, 69% of Catholics think that priests should be allowed to get married, while 64% said that women should be allowed to become priests.


Interestingly, both regular and irregular Mass attendees showed a significant level of agreement on the issues of contraception, married priests, and communion for cohabitating Catholics.


Differences in Regular and Irregular Mass-Goers

However, there were significant differences between Catholics who attend Mass regularly and those who do not attend Mass weekly on the issues of women priests and the marriage of homosexual couples.


65% of weekly Mass attenders say the Church should not recognize same-sex marriages, and 56% say the Church should retain its ban on women priests.


On the other hand, 61% of Catholics who don’t attend Mass weekly say the Church should recognize homosexual marriages, and 71% are in favor of women’s ordination.


The difference between weekly Mass-goers and those who attend Mass occasionally is also visible in support for abortion. While 6 in 10 Catholics (61%) say they supported abortion, only about a third of weekly Mass attenders (34%) favored the killing of unborn babies.


The survey found 63% of Hispanic Catholics supporting legal abortion in all or most cases compared to 59% of White Catholics.


Democrat Catholics More Heterodox

According to the survey, Catholics who vote Democrat are more inclined to support heterodox views of Catholicism compared to Catholic Republicans.


Roughly nine-in-ten Catholic Democrats or Catholics who lean toward the Democratic Party hold a positive view of Pope Francis, compared with 63% of Catholics who are Republicans or lean Republican.


"This survey marks the first time that more than 28% of Catholic Republicans have expressed unfavorable views of Francis in roughly a dozen times we have asked this question since his papacy began in 2013," the Pew Research Center observed.


Older Catholics, White Catholics and Catholic women are marginally more liberal in their view of Catholic doctrine and practice compared to younger Catholics, Hispanic Catholics and Catholic men, the survey found.


While the percentage of Catholics who desire married priests, women clergy, and gay marriage are in the same ballpark as they were a decade ago, there has been an increase in Catholics who favor Communion for cohabitating couples, and a slight increase in Catholics favoring contraception.


Drop in Number of White Catholics

The survey also shows significant ethnic differences in political affiliation, with six in 10 Hispanic Catholics (60%) aligning with the Democratic Party, while a similar percentage of White Catholics (61%) state their affiliation with the Republican Party.


One-third of the Catholic population in the United States is now Hispanic, a 4% increase since 2007. White Catholics, who make up 57% of the Catholic population, have decreased by 8% in the same timeframe. Black non-Hispanic Catholics represent only 2% of the Catholic population, while Asian non-Hispanic Catholics make up 4%.


Most Catholics Reject Transubstantiation

A Pew Research Center survey conducted in Aug. 2019 found that most self-described Catholics reject the core teaching of transubstantiation taught by the Catholic Church.


Nearly seven-in-ten Catholics (69%) said that the bread and wine remained as “symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ” even after consecration during Holy Mass. Only one-third of Catholics (31%) affirmed that “during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.”


Most Catholics who did not believe in transubstantiation said they thought the Church also held the same position on the Eucharist as a symbol. Overall, 43% of Catholics believe that the bread and wine are symbolic and that this reflects the position of the Church.


Nevertheless, one-in-five Catholics (22%) rejected the doctrine of transubstantiation, even though they were going against official Church teaching, the survey found.

Dr. Jules Gomes, (BA, BD, MTh, PhD), has a doctorate in biblical studies from the University of Cambridge. Currently a Vatican-accredited journalist based in Rome, he is the author of five books and several academic articles. Gomes lectured at Catholic and Protestant seminaries and universities and was canon theologian and artistic director at Liverpool Cathedral.

To support articles like this, please consider a donation to Souls and Liberty.

952 views5 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Apr 18

Regarding why people think it’s ok to take communion while cohabiting-It’s due to the ‘confusion’ over the Sacrament of Marriage. The Eastern Rite, under the Pope states it’s the Priest during the Marriage ceremony that confers that Sacrament whereas in the Roman Rite they state it’s the couple themselves with their public vows that confer that sacrament and the priest just blesses the union.

Replying to

I think it's a small percentage of American Catholics who know that the Church teaches the couple are the ministers. I also think it would make no difference to them. But thanks for the information; I didn't know that about the Eastern Rite!😊


Since it's a Mortal Sin to miss Mass on Sunday, unless for a good reason, how can these people who willfully live in Mortal Sin be considered Catholic?

Like all polls, this one is skewed and does not give us a real snapshot of Catholic Beliefs in America.

Just because someone says they are "Catholic", doesn't mean they are.

Replying to

It might be they were baptized Catholic, but now only go to church sometimes for funerals and weddings. I'm pretty sure they couldn't tell you what a mortal sin is. The survey does distinguish between them and those who regularly attend Sunday Mass (who might also just be attending for cultural reasons).


I believe the reason for the large number of Catholics who believe people cohabitating should be able to receive the Eucharist is because of the large number of Catholics who are themselves cohabitating or in otherwise "irregular" relationships.

bottom of page