Catholic Priests and the Political Order: The Political Behavior of Catholic Pastors

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A nationwide mail survey of Catholic priests is analyzed with respect to their political behavior in the presidential election of 2000. Priests exhibit a slight tendency to self-identify as political liberals, and a strong tendency to identify with the Democratic Party. Nevertheless, Bill Clinton won a very narrow victory over Bob Dole among priests in 1996, and George W. Bush trounced Al Gore among Catholic clergy in 2000. My analysis suggests that support for Gore was motivated by concern for hunger and poverty among Catholic priests, while support for Bush was driven primarily by priestly opposition to abortion. Political participation among priests was predicted by the importance attached to social justice concerns, and by congruence between the social and economic views of each priest and his congregation.


Catholic Church; Clergy; Christianity and politics--Catholic Church; Liberalism


American Politics | Catholic Studies | Political Science | Religion | Sociology

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