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May 12, 1995     The Message
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May 12, 1995

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14 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Purdue Study Are converts better Catholics PART XV in a series There is an old saying that "converts make the best Catholics." That saying sug- i i i i gests that people who switch to Catholicism from some other faith are more religious than people who are raised Catholic. It implies that people who choose to be Catholic are more committed than people who are Catholic simply because they were born into the Church. In a recent study of Indiana Indiana (" ,,ttholics Catholic Pluralism Project James A. Davidson, Director Purdue University -- Department of Sociology and Anthropology 14% -- Converts Characteristics 71% women 46 % at least 55 years old 12% African American 'More Religious' Higher scores on post-Vatican II religious practices More likely to rate their parishes as "excellent" More inclinedto report having personal experiences of the holy 86% -- 'Cradle Catholics' Characteristics 63 % women 36 % at least 55 years old 2% African American 'More Religious' More likely to think of themselves as religious More likely to maintain core beliefs More likely to view Catholic Church as the "one true Church" Converts and Cradle Catholics: No appreciable differences Overall religious practice Pre-Vatican II religious practices Post-Vatican II beliefs Sexual morality Benefits from being Catholic Evaluations of the Pope Education Family income Pope Continued from page 1 tionalistic divisions that have flared in the region since the end of communist rule. The schedule calls for Blessei Sarkander to be can- onized during a May 21 out- door Mass in Olomouc, the city where he was tortured to death in 1620 after being accused by Protestant leaders of collabo- rating with an invading Polish Catholic army. Also scheduled to be declared a saint at the same ceremony is Blessed Zdislava of Lemberk, a 13th- century noblewoman and mother of four known for her charitable works. Czech and world Protestant leaders have protested to the -- ,, i i ii ,e i inn I I I "Where customers send their friends" Open nightly til 9 p.m. li,TcbclhoP & Son OLD US 2SI,SOOTH -- JASP[R, IN.- 482-2222 Did You Know: ,1-80937NUSA1 OLDS CIERA is most ,trouble free car made in,America , ,,, , j.q. Powom Vatican and Czech Catholic of- ficials, and Czech Protestant leaders have threatened to sever dialogue with local Catholics if Blessed Sarkander is canonized. Bishop Pavel Smetana of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren asked for the canon- ization ceremony to be post- poned or done in a low-key fashion in Rome. The Rev. Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, called the canonization a "highly sensi- tive" ecumenical issue. The World Alliance of Reformed Churches has also protested. Polish Protestant leaders have not criticized the canon- ization, but have reacted war- I ily to the event. Vatican offcials involved in ecumenical relations said the pope is aware of the tensions and feels that the time has come to heal the bitter memo- ries of historical wounds. The pope will have a chance to make that effort during the Mass homily and at meetings with Protestant leaders May 20 in the Czech capital of Prague and May 22 in Skoc- zow, Poland, Blessed Sarkan- der's birthplace. The pope is expected to empha- size that there are martyrs on all sides and that the canonization is not a re-emphasis of the forced conversions of previous centuries, said Vatican officials. One main problem, said a Vat- ican ecumenical official, is that Catholics and Protestants have radically different views of these religiously turbulent times. The official said the pope fa- vors joint studies by Catholic Catholics, researchers com- pared converts and "cradle Catholics" to see if there is any truth to the old saying. Their results might surprise you. First, they found that 86 percent of Indiana Catholics were born into the Church; only 14 percent converted from some other faith. Compared to cradle Catholics, converts are more likely to be women (71 percent vs. 63 percent), at least 55 years old (46 percent vs. 36 percent), and African Ameri- can (12 percent vs. 2 percent). Converts are no different in terms of years of education or family income. Second, converts were no dif- ferent from cradle Catholics on most measures of religious be- lief and practice. The re- searchers could find no appre- ciable differences on measures of pre-Vatican religious prac- tices, overall religious practice, post-Vatican II beliefs, beliefs about sexual morality, benefits from being Catholic, and evalu- ations of the pope. For exam- ple, 48 percent of converts and 46 percent of cradle Catholics score medium to high on the index of overall practice. Forty- four percent of cradle Catholics and 42 percent of converts score high on the measure of traditional sexual morality. Third, on three other mea- sures, cradle Catholics are more religious than converts. People who were born into the Church are more likely to think of themselves as reli- gious (72 percent vs. 61 per- cent). Cradle Catholics also are more likely to maintain core beliefs related to the Trinity, Heaven, and the Real Presence (the belief that Christ is actu- ally present in the Eucharist). They also are more likely to adhere to pre-Vatican II beliefs and Protestant scholars to reach a common historical un- derstanding of these periods. The pope also will have to wrestle with the contemporary Czech problem of stirring up general interest in church life and a specific interest in voca- tions. The pope will not find the same enthusiasm as on his first trip, said Archbishop Jan Graubner of Olomouc. Some Czechs voice disap- proval of the "duties and disci- plines" of Catholic life, he said. Archbishop Graubner said half of his archdiocesan parishes are without priests, and many active pastors are beyond retirement age. More than 40 percent of the 10.9 million population listed themselves as Catholics in the 1993 government census. But a 1994 survey showed that only 12 percent of the Catholics said they attended church regularly. MILLER & MILLER "A family name you can trust" 424-9274 I . I I/ ,,jp about the Catholic being the "one "true and the need to teachings even when doesn't Finally, converts are more religious on thre! sures. Nineteen verts, compared to 12 of cradle Catholics, on an index of religious practices, cludes items on reading Bible and attending groups. Converts are what more likely to parishes as ing their spiritual percent vs. 26 also are slightly to report having sonal experiences For example, verts, compared to of cradle Catholics, has answered their pr Seventy-one verts say that God them in time of pared to 65 pel Catholics who were the Church. say that God has physically, compared to: cent of cradle James D. of the Catholic ject, says these serious d.oubtS abotl saying that ter Catholics. On sions of faith, there difference between and cradle areas, cradle more religiouS, others, converts are mitted. Overall, the don't appear to be aS as the old saying In Poland, hope the injects some tiT's dormant soothes' Although cent of the tants profeSS survey last that 36 longer authority. The most popular only 20 percent lowed his pares to In an youths at the noted that the has changed, increasingly vate realm "- l scope of its socia apostolic Politically, e control been block: vored by the final with the Polish on the pop' rekindle cism.