01: An optimistic view of human nature and a sturdy religious faith characterizes many Americans today, according to a New York Times poll.
The survey of 1,003 Americans, found few signs of secularization. Forty-nine percent said they were about as religious as their parents, and 21 percent said they were more religious. Yet 75 percent said they believe in the intrinsic goodness of people, suggesting, “whether they fully realize it or not, that they no longer subscribe to the Judeo-Christian notion of original sin,” writes sociologist Alan Wolfe in the New York Times Magazine (May 7).
Fully 60 percent of respondents said that lying may be necessary when it helps to avoid hurting a person’s feelings. Wolfe writes that there were not significant differences between Catholics and Protestants. The strongest differences were between frequent church attenders and those who were not.
02: Lay ministers now outnumber priests on the staffs of most Catholic parishes, according to a survey.
The National Catholic Parish Survey found that the average U.S. parish has two lay ministers and 1.8 priests. America magazine (May 13) notes that when subtracting retired priests who may reside in parishes, the number of priests is reduced to 1.5. The survey also found that the average parish size has grown by 23 percent since 1982, from 2,300 members to 2,831.
At the same time, the size of the average ministerial staff increased from 4.7 percent per parish to 5.1. Another finding is that the average number of parishioners per priest has risen since 1982 from 920 to 1,572. Excluding retired priests, that ratio increases to 1,887 parishioners per priest.
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