New research released from Georgetown University shows that Catholics gave more money to their church in 2002 than in 2001, despite media speculation about a drop in donations due to the highly publicized sex abuse scandals within the church.

“This is not to say that American Catholics don’t care about the scandal,” Mary Gautier, senior research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, said. “Rather, it says that they are able to distinguish their disappointment in leadership from their identity as Catholics and their attachment to the church.”

Although overall giving increased in 2002, the study showed that Catholics tended to target their donations more toward local parishes than appeals from the diocese for the community at large. Gautier accounts this to parishioners choosing to give money to more specific Catholic causes such as Catholic Charities or Catholic Relief Services in addition to the local Catholic community.

“Catholics are still proud to be Catholic,” Gautier said. “They still think their local bishop is doing a good job, they still care deeply about their local parish community and realize that their parish relies on donations of time, talent and treasure to cover the ongoing expenses involved in running a parish.”

The study analyzed findings from 166 dioceses and eparchies, 86 percent of all dioceses nationwide.

The research was conducted by CARA, a national non-profit GU affiliated organization. CARA conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church in an effort to increase the church’s self-understanding and advance scholarly research on religion.

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