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Posted March 15, 2005

The Financial Side of Catholics

1. Among married Catholics, the median family income in 2003 was about $56,000. The median for pre-Vatican II Catholics was $37,000; for Vatican II Catholics is was $68,000; and for post-Vatican II Catholics, it was about $57,000. Among single Catholics, the median family income was about $28,000 (ranging from $21,000 for post-Vatican II Catholics to $36,000 for Vatican II Catholics).

2. About three-quarters of married Catholics (and nearly 90 percent of pre-Vatican II Catholics) said they contributed to the Church in 2002. Their median contribution was about $500 ($400 for post-Vatican II Catholics and $600 for Vatican II and pre-Vatican II Catholics). Just over 60 percent of married Catholics said their contributions had not changed from 2001. The rest were twice as likely to say their contributions had declined as to say they had increased.

3. About 6 in 10 single Catholics (and about three-quarters of single Catholics in the Vatican II generation) contributed to the Church in 2002. The median contribution among single Catholics was just over $200. About 60 percent said their contributions had not changed from the previous year. The rest were more likely to say their contributions were lower than to say they were higher.

4. A clear majority of Catholics want full financial disclosure and greater participation in the Church’s financial affairs. About 80 percent believe Church reports should show how much money has been spent on settling law suits against church leaders; 80 percent believe that the Church needs better financial reporting at all levels of church life; about 40 percent of laypeople believe the laity should withhold donations until they have more voice in financial decisions.

5. Catholics who have a strong sense of stewardship, feel they share in parish decision-making; and believe their parishes are meeting their social and spiritual needs contribute more of their time, talent, and treasure to their parishes than other Catholics do.

6. About 80 percent of Catholics say the sexual abuse scandal has had no effect on their financial contributions to the Church. Other Catholics are more likely to report that the scandal has adversely affected their contributions than to say it has increased them.

7. Since the sexual abuse scandal, religiously active laypeople continue to support local parishes through Offertory collections. Fewer Catholics support their dioceses simply to support their bishops, and more do so because they do not want to punish diocesan charities.

8. Between 2002 and 2003, the percentage of religiously active Catholics not contributing to national collections increased from 19 to 27 percent.