Among Catholics, U.S. Latinos Stricter Than Whites About Faith Teachings

Pew finds Latinos align with Church on issues such as same-sex marriage and “sins of excess.”

When Pope Fran­cis—the first Lat­in Amer­ic­an pontiff—ar­rives in the U.S., he will find a Cath­ol­ic pub­lic that in­creas­ingly has roots in Lat­in Amer­ica, as Lati­nos now make up 34 per­cent of all Amer­ic­an Cath­ol­ic adults.

But what may be less com­monly known is the di­vide between Latino and white Amer­ic­an Cath­ol­ics on some church teach­ings. On a vari­ety of is­sues—such as re­cog­niz­ing gay mar­riages and de­term­in­ing eli­gib­il­ity for Holy Com­mu­nion—Latino Cath­ol­ics tend to be more aligned with the church than are white Cath­ol­ics, ac­cord­ing to a new Pew Re­search Cen­ter sur­vey. And Latino Cath­ol­ics are more likely than white Cath­ol­ics to view a vari­ety of be­ha­vi­ors as sins.

For ex­ample, while ma­jor­it­ies of white Cath­ol­ics be­lieve the Cath­ol­ic Church should al­low those who are liv­ing with a ro­mantic part­ner without be­ing mar­ried (69 per­cent) or who have di­vorced and re­mar­ried without an an­nul­ment (74 per­cent) to re­ceive Com­mu­nion, roughly half of Latino Cath­ol­ics say the same (49 per­cent and 44 per­cent, re­spect­ively).

About half of Latino Cath­ol­ics say it is a sin to get re­mar­ried after a di­vorce without first get­ting an an­nul­ment, com­pared with only a quarter of white Cath­ol­ics who say this. And about four-in-10 Latino Cath­ol­ics say it is a sin to live with a ro­mantic part­ner without be­ing mar­ried, com­pared with three-in-10 white Cath­ol­ics.

Ho­mo­sexu­al­ity is an­oth­er area where the two groups di­verge. More white Cath­ol­ics say ho­mo­sexu­al be­ha­vi­or is not a sin (45 per­cent) than say it is (37 per­cent). But among His­pan­ic Cath­ol­ics, the bal­ance of opin­ion is re­versed, with roughly six-in-10 (59 per­cent) say­ing ho­mo­sexu­al be­ha­vi­or is sin­ful and only a quarter say­ing it is not (25 per­cent).

On gay mar­riage, too, a sim­il­ar pat­tern is clear. While white Cath­ol­ics are some­what di­vided over wheth­er the Cath­ol­ic Church should re­cog­nize the mar­riages of gay and les­bi­an couples (50 per­cent say it should, 42 per­cent say it should not), His­pan­ic Cath­ol­ics are less sup­port­ive of gay mar­riage be­ing re­cog­nized by the church.

Pew-CatholicsLatino Cath­ol­ics also are more closely aligned with the church than white Cath­ol­ics when it comes to “sins of ex­cess.” Roughly half of Latino Cath­ol­ics (55 per­cent) say it is a sin to spend money on lux­ur­ies without also giv­ing to the poor, com­pared with a third of white Cath­ol­ics who say this (34 per­cent).

Latino Cath­ol­ics also are more likely than white Cath­ol­ics to say it is sin­ful to live in a house that is much lar­ger than your fam­ily needs (18 per­cent vs. 8 per­cent), and to use elec­tri­city, gas­ol­ine, and oth­er forms of en­ergy without con­cern for one’s im­pact on the en­vir­on­ment (32 per­cent vs. 18 per­cent).

And while sim­il­ar shares of Latino Cath­ol­ics (62 per­cent) and white Cath­ol­ics (61 per­cent) say work­ing to help the poor and needy is an es­sen­tial part of what be­ing Cath­ol­ic means to them per­son­ally, Latino Cath­ol­ics are more likely to say work­ing to ad­dress cli­mate change is an es­sen­tial part of their Cath­ol­ic iden­tity (40 per­cent, vs. 22 per­cent of white Cath­ol­ics).


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