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American Catholics Today: New Realities of Their Faith and Their Church 50494th Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0742552159
ISBN-10: 0742552152
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Editorial Reviews


If you want to know who Catholics are, how they feel, and what they think, this is the book to read. (E. J. Dionne)

The most definitive study of American Catholics' beliefs and practices to date! This revealing book is 'must reading' for pastors and teachers who want to understand the lay audience to which they wish to communicate the faith. New, more nuanced, analysis and use of multiple sources for their data make this the best social portrait yet of the Catholic laity and their commitments to their faith and their church. (Terrence W. Tilley, Professor and Chair, Department of Theology, Fordham University)

The teachings of the Church are clearly stated and widely known. However, what Catholics actually believe and practice often differs from official teachings and is more difficult to know. This book tells us what contemporary Catholics are thinking about their Church. And it tells us in detail, by generation, how committed and active they are in their belonging. Younger Catholics relate to the Church differently from older Catholics and the future does not look like the past. Anyone who has responsibility in the Church-from the bishops to the parishioners-will benefit from reading this book whether or not one likes the data and conclusions. To form Catholics in their faith, it is important to be informed by Catholics themselves. While the Church does not formulate its doctrine according to sociological data, it would be wise to pay attention to such data when it constructs its policies. (Chester Gillis, Georgetown University; author of Roman Catholicism in America)

American Catholics Today offers a clear snapshot of what it means to be Catholic at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Built on twenty years of church research, American Catholics Today is a must-read for Church leaders who wish to respond creatively to the pastoral challenges facing the Church in the U.S. today. An invaluable, informative and insightful resource for exploring questions of Catholic identity, commitment, church authority, leadership and lay participation in the Church! (Sr. Sharon A. Euart, RSM, JCD, Canon Law Consultant)

Will be of interest to those involved in Church leadership and those interested in what Catholics think about various topics. (Curled Up With A Good Book, (Www.Curledup.Com))

The book presents the important findings of the survey in clearly labeled tables for quick reference and the data are described in a readable style that will quickly draw in those interested in American Catholicism. (Aisha S. Taylor Conscience)

Once again, four of the premier observers of contemporary Catholic life in the United States have combined their considerable expertise to provide a thoughtful view of lay Catholic attitudes. Through the data that they have collected, but more importantly through their insightful analysis of that data, they have provided an invaluable snapshot of the U.S. Catholic Church in the early years of the third millennium. As with their previous books, this book is must reading for anyone who cares about the Church, especially those in leadership positions. (Charles Zech, Villanova University Center for the Study of Church Management)

I know ― bar none ― of no better overview anywhere else than American Catholics Today for presenting carefully garnered data and astute interpretations about what American Catholics think about church authority; core belief items; moral issues, such as serving the poor or abortion; politics; how gender, generation or political beliefs effect Catholic religious practice. This volume will be a valued and indispensable constant companion for all thoughtful students of American religion, sociology of religion or pastoral workers in the Catholic Church in America. (John A. Coleman S.J., Casassa Professor of Social Values, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles)

This book is unique among social science books on Catholicism in that it offers analysis of survey data documenting trends over the past eighteen years as well as interweaving a number of other sociological studies that clarify and corroborate their findings. This is a most important book for all church leaders to read and discuss whatever their liberal or conservative persuasions might be. (Dr. Michael J. McCallion, Rev. William Cunningham Chair in Catholic Social Analysis, Sacred Heart Major Seminary)

American Catholics Today is a rich resource for nurturing the pastoral imagination, inviting response to "good news" such as the stability of Catholic identity, and the "bad news" of diminishing commitment to the Church. Ordained and lay leaders will find many challenges in such trends as the increasing dependence on individual conscience, diminished trust in bishops, low involvement of young adults in church life and the growing desire for greater lay participation in decision-making.

The book's portrait of U.S. Catholics is based on impressive research and is presented with eminent fairness. (Commonweal)

We think the studies are important to understanding the church in the United States. Some of the findings, however, could be disturbing to church leaders and others who would rather ignore the evidence and continuing imagining a church that doesn't exist. (National Catholic Reporter)

We recommend American Catholics Today to anyone who wants to know what Catholics are really thinking! (America)

Amidst this turmoil, American Catholics Today, the latest in a series of surveys of American Catholics conducted since 1980s by William D'Antonio, James Davidson, Dean Hoge, and Mary Gautier, offers both reassurance and a call to action. As in their previous books, D'Antonio et al. provide an easy-to-read descriptive account based on a broad swath of data examining Catholics' beliefs and doctrinal attitudes, and their commitment to the church and to a Catholic identity. (American Catholic Studies, 2008)

American Catholics Today is an important book, both for the number of findings about U.S. Catholics from preceeding studies, which it confirms, and for the new findings, which it reveals for the first time. . . . In summary, therefore, I believe that the authors have done the church an invaluable service by writing this book. (. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, March 2008)

The study is extremely valuable. (. Catholic Library World, March 2008)

Cogent and challenging conclusions are offered. Readers will be challenged to explore how the book's findings relate in each ministry setting and to determine how to act to strengthen Catholic identity and commitment. (November/December 2007 Rite, November/December 2007)

What makes this book so enlightening is...the inclusion of personal stories that put some flesh on the bones of the bare data. (America, February 2009)

This timely and thought-provoking book carefully interprets 18 years of gathered evidence and prognostications about the next generation of Catholicism in America....This wonderful book is essential reading for all those involved in church leadership and for the ordinary person in the pew. Enlightening, challenging, and threatening, it is recommended for all libraries. (Library Journal)

About the Author

William V. D'Antonio is Fellow of the Life Cycle Institute, Catholic University of America. James D. Davidson is professor of sociology at Purdue University. Dean R. Hoge is Fellow of the Life Cycle Institute, Catholic University of America. Mary Gautier is senior research associate and research associate professor at CARA, Georgetown University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; 50494th edition (March 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742552152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742552159
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,512,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Timothy Kearney VINE VOICE on May 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
It's not that often that I read a book in one sitting, especially if the book is a collection of surveys and statistics, but that's exactly what happened when I came across AMERICAN CATHOLICS TODAY. The book is based on the answers by 875 people who identify themselves as Catholics. The participants are asked about nearly every question possible pertaining to Catholicism in America from acceptance of Church teachings, living as Catholics in the United States today, beliefs regarding the Sacraments, opinions regarding the sexual abuse crisis, and the role of the laity in the Church today.

The results of the surveys are not too surprising. In general the survey and results reveal what observers of the American Catholic Church have maintained for years: Catholics in the United States are barely distinguishable from their non Catholic peers, at least on the surface, but a closer look reveals there can be distinctions in nuance. In a number of ways the Church is healthier than some critics would claim, but it also shows the disconnect between the institutional Church and many American Catholics.

This is the fourth of such surveys, but this volume is significant for some very important reasons. It's the first volume of its kind that has been published since January 2002 when the sexual abuse scandal came to light. It's also the first volume that includes significant data about what it calls "millennial Catholics": those born after the post-Vatican II years. Also demographic groups are changing. Pre-Vatican II Catholics are decreasing and the Vatican II/post Vatican II generations are increasing. There are also anecdotes included in the book about catholic life today that illustrate the results of the survey.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"American Catholics Today" is the fourth study (1987, 1993, & 1999) of the American Catholic Church by authors D'Antonio, Davidson, Hoge, and Gautier. Each study has been designed to examine the faith of the Catholic laity, and their relationship to the Catholic Church. Particular emphasis is given to:

* Catholic identity
* Participation in sacraments and devotions
* The locus of moral authority, especially in relation to human sexuality
* The laity's views of the Church's social teachings
* The growing shortage of priests and what to do about it
* Decision making in the Church

Respondent's were segmented by ethnicity, gender and generation. Four generational divides were used: those born before 1940, Pre-Vatican II; those between 1941-1960, Vatican II; between 1961-1978; and those born between 1979-1987, Millennials.

This excellent study will be valuable to those interested in understanding the Catholic Church today - particularly Catholic religious and lay leaders. I have made this book available to participants on our local parish's Pastoral Council and to leaders of the Catholics@Work lay movement. It is imperative, if one wants to work effectively with the laity, to understand the existing landscape (the marketplace). Wishing it to be something else will lead to plans laid waste.

The take-aways for me include: the generational differences, particularly with the Millennials who are the future of the Church; the source of `conservative' vs. `liberal' and how these terms do not describe various points-of-view within the church. As a result, these terms are misunderstood, miscommunicated, and misused - creating a `political' divide.

It would be unfair to the authors to describe the findings in great detail. This is a book that must be purchased, read thoroughly, and referred to often.
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Format: Paperback
D'Ambrosio, et. al., have continued past studies, at six year intervals, of Catholics in the United States. Their chapters are clear, the graphs easy to follow, and the conclusions pretty much extend observations from previous studies. They make a subtle distinction between identity as Catholics and involvement in church, with the latter being a safer predictor of behavior. The studies show Catholics have high agreement on core faith issues (divinity of Jesus, Trinity, Eucharist, etc.), but very scattered agreement/disagreement on the "gender-sexuality" sensitive issues of today. Because book poses questions in pretty much the same format as before, it has limitations. But given the starting point, it's worth looking at.
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