American Catholics: Gender, Generation, and Commitment

by William V. D'Antonio, James D. Davidson, and others. AltaMira Press, 2001.

'American Catholics' describes the findings of research conducted in 1999 to investigate trends and issues in the Roman Catholic Church in America. The book provides information and reflection upon the research findings to help Roman Catholic leaders understand trends and influences in their congregations.

'American Catholics' points to the considerable diversity in belief and practice of Roman Catholics in America. The research enables the reader to compare the responses of Catholics over time in reference to the convening of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

The research has identified three variables that are more important than all others studied: gender, generation, and commitment to the Church. Following attitudes and beliefs across generations, the study identifies trends (for example, Roman Catholics are not as attached to the institutional Church as they once were; and traditional, devotional practice has declined) and the implications of such trends, which is helpful information for Roman Catholic leaders.

Although written for the Roman Catholic Church in America, a reading of 'American Catholics' sets the stage well for its readers. Even those who are unfamiliar with the Church will increase their understanding. In light of their own denomination, readers can benefit from reflecting on the implications of the trends identified by the research.