Andrew Sullivan, who is Catholic himself and disagrees with many of the church’s position, points to a new survey of American Catholics that finds that most of them simply don’t recognize the authority of the church on most issues.
Large majorities say that a person can be a good Catholic without going to church every Sunday (78 percent), without obeying the church hierarchy’s teaching on birth control (78 percent), without their marriage being approved by the church (72 percent), and without obeying the church hierarchy’s teaching on divorce and remarriage (69 percent).
This is not surprising at all. Catholics don’t behave any differently on these issues than any other group, despite the church’s stern teachings on them. They also don’t believe much in doctrines like transubstantiation. I suspect they remain Catholic mostly out of habit and kinship. It’s what they are used to, it’s what they think they’re supposed to do. But they don’t really believe most of it. And I suspect the same is true of most Protestants as well.