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Most U.S. Catholics rely heavily on their own conscience for moral guidance

Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he arrives on his pope-mobile for his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, April 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he arrives on his pope-mobile for his weekly general audience, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, April 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Despite Pope Francis’ overwhelming popularity, only about one-in-ten American Catholics say they turn to the pope “a great deal” for guidance on difficult moral questions, according to a Pew Research Center survey on religion in everyday life.

Rather, most Catholics say they look inward for guidance in their lives. Roughly three-quarters of U.S. Catholics (73%) say they rely “a great deal” on their own conscience when facing difficult moral problems, compared with 21% who look to the Catholic Church’s teachings, 15% who turn to the Bible and 11% who say they rely a great deal on the pope.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Catholics who are highly religious (defined in our survey as those who say they pray daily and attend religious services at least once a week) are considerably more likely than other Catholics to seek guidance from church teachings, the Bible and the pope. Still, no more than half of highly religious Catholics give great weight to any of these sources of guidance, while 74% say they rely a great deal on their conscience.

Read more at PewResearch.org…

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