Just 8% of the US Catholics say they are ‘very close’ with the clergy at their church

U.S. Catholics less likely than Protestants to express confidence in advice from clergy

Source: Pew Research Center

By Claire Gecewicz

Most U.S. adults who attend religious services express confidence in their clergy’s advice on a range of questions, at least to some degree. But a recent Pew Research Center survey finds that Catholics have considerably less confidence than Protestants – and are less likely to claim a close relationship with their clergy.

Just 8% of U.S. Catholics say they are 'very close' with the clergy at their churchAmong U.S. adults who attend religious services at least a few times a year, Catholics are less likely than Protestants to say they have a “very” or “somewhat” close relationship with their clergy. Six-in-ten Catholics (61%) say this, compared with about eight-in-ten Protestants (78%). Just 8% of Catholics say they are very close with their clergy, compared with a quarter of Protestants. And while only 22% of Protestants say they are not close with the clergy at their church, the share among Catholics is nearly twice as high (39%).

Among specific Protestant groups, those in the evangelical (80%) and historically black traditions (81%) are more likely than mainline Protestants (71%) to say their relationship with their clergy is at least somewhat close. All three Protestant groups, however, say they have a closer relationship with their clergy than Catholics do.

Catholics, Protestants differ over clergy guidance

Catholics and Protestants also express varying levels of confidence in their clergy’s advice about personal issues and religious topics. Only three-in-ten Catholics, for instance, say they have “a lot” of confidence in their clergy’s guidance about marriage and relationships. Larger shares of evangelical Protestants (66%), Protestants in the historically black tradition (54%) and mainline Protestants (45%) say the same. And Catholics are much less likely than Protestants overall to trust their religious leaders to give useful advice on parenting (23% vs. 49%, respectively).

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