The news: Pope Francis might be the most open-minded pontiff the world has seen when it comes to same-sex marriage, and it looks like his progressive views are very much in line with those of his congregation.
A new Pew Research Center survey of American Catholics published this week reveals that among young Catholics, LGBT identity is far from the taboo subject it once was: A whopping 85% of self-identified Catholics from age 18 to 29 said that homosexuality should be accepted by society, as opposed to 13% who said it should be discouraged.
Perhaps more surprisingly, older Catholics seemed more open to homosexuality as well, with 57% of those over the age of 65 saying homosexuality should be accepted.
Support for same-sex marriage received similarly high numbers, especially among the young:
This is good news for the rest of the country. Although people tend to abandon their religious dogma as they grow older — Pew found that while nearly 1-in-3 Americans (31%) were raised in the Catholic faith, today fewer than 1-in-4 (24%) describe themselves as Catholic — self-identified Catholics still make up nearly a quarter of the American population, with significant sociocultural and political influence.
The Pew research comes one week after Mic reported on a movement within the Mormon church to promote acceptance of LGBT Americans. With an increasing number of Catholics signaling open-mindedness for both homosexuality and same-sex marriage, it's indicative that conservative religious groups in the U.S. may be catching up with the rest of the country on LGBT issues.
While there was a correlation between religiosity and progressive social views, Pew found that it still did not completely explain the widespread support for LGBT causes in the Catholic Church.
"Our research has found that older Catholics attend Mass more frequently than do their younger counterparts, and that Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly are more likely to say that homosexuality should be discouraged than those who do not. But even among churchgoing Catholics of all ages – that is, those who attend Mass at least weekly – roughly twice as many say homosexuality should be accepted (60%) as say it should be discouraged (31%)," Pew reported.
Times are changing, and so are the Catholic Church's views on sexuality.