Which Catholic church is holy to you?
A new study by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, published on Tuesday, reveals that Catholics who have a positive view of the Catholic Church, or who are open to new forms of religion, are more likely to consider themselves Catholic than those who do not.
The study, titled ‘Catholics, the world’s largest religious group, and their religious attitudes: A multidisciplinary approach’, was carried out by researchers at the Pontifex Maximus in Rome, Italy.
Researchers were looking to find out if the idea of religion in general, or Catholicism in particular, could influence a person’s attitude towards the Catholic faith, as well as their perception of other religious groups.
“If one were to say, ‘I want to be a Catholic’, and someone says, ‘Oh, you’re a Catholic?
Well, that’s fine’, that person may have an attitude of not liking religion at all, but maybe he or she has an attitude towards other religions,” said the study’s lead author Dr Stefano Mancuso.
“In this study we found that the more religious a person is, the more likely he or her is to be influenced by other religious views.”
He said the findings suggested that people with positive views of the Church are more open to changing their minds about religion and may be more likely than others to find new religions, if they were open to it.
The research was based on the results of a survey conducted in May of 2015, and the results were published in the journal Sociology.
Researchers asked 1,200 people whether they had a positive or negative view of Catholicism.
They then asked the people if they had ever considered becoming a Catholic.
They found that more than half of those who said they had never considered becoming Catholic also said they would have a more positive opinion of the faith if they did.
“A positive view is a feeling that a religious group is doing a good job of promoting their beliefs, and that their actions are helping to spread those beliefs,” said Dr Mancusa.
“The more positive a person feels about a religious organisation, the better they think they are in relation to the group.”
For the researchers, the key variable in the study was how often people considered themselves Catholic or not.
A positive view on Catholicism was associated with more positive attitudes towards other religious and non-religious groups, and less negative attitudes towards the Church.
A negative view was associated more with negative attitudes about Catholicism.
The researchers say that in general the more people have a negative view about Catholicism, the less likely they are to be religious.
Dr Macuso said that the study may have implications for other religions.
“There is a growing recognition that there are aspects of religion that have been largely ignored or misunderstood by the general public, such as how many miracles are true and how many people believe in Jesus Christ,” he said.
“Religious people may not have realised they are more influenced by their own beliefs than by what they are told, and thus may be less likely to accept or support other beliefs that may not match their own.”
Dr Mascuso says that while there is a lot of interest in how religion affects people, it is important to look at religion from the perspective of the wider society.
“For instance, if one is Catholic, it can be more difficult to convince people that a particular church or religion is not really about them,” he added.
“Even if they are a believer, they may have a different perception of the church that is less supportive of their beliefs.”