NFP and Divorce Rates: More Research Needed

Did you know that last month the Catholic Church celebrated NFP Awareness Week?  NFP, or Natural Family Planning, refers to methods for postponing (or achieving) pregnancy based upon observations of a woman’s body that inform her of the fertile and infertile phases of her cycle.  Overlapping with the anniversary of Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, NFP Awareness Week is, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “a national educational campaign of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on the Catholic teaching on married love and the gift of human life. The annual campaign, which began in 2002, promotes awareness of Natural Family Planning (NFP) methods.” Continue reading

A reader request: Research on Catholic Youth Ministry

The blog has been quiet in August, but we will be posting again soon.  Here is a request I received direct from a reader:

I read The Catholic Conversation blog frequently. I was hoping that you could point me in the direction of or help get the word out that we need some research about youth ministry, especially in Catholic parishes because I know that some of the statistics would differ among Catholic and non-Catholic church populations. I’m interested in things including, but not limited to, average attendance at youth groups, average age range (6-8th grade vs. high school), as well as correlation between a “youth Mass” or Sunday evening Mass and participation in youth group.

Anyone engaging in this type of research and/or interested in blogging on the topic, please e-mail me at

More on Women’s Religious Vocations

Apropos of Linda’s recent posts regarding women religious and vocations, the new Chair-elect of ASA’s Sociology of Religion section-  Patricia Wittberg- weighed in on this very topic in an article in America.

Reporting on data from the 2009 NRVC-CARA study on recent vocations to the religious life (which Linda mentioned and linked to previously), the article does a nice job of highlighting the contemporary challenge facing religious orders, in general, in attracting vocations.  It is probably worth noting that Patricia and her co-author, Mary Johnson, are both women religious and sociologists.  As such, they use their empirical data to debunk simplistic popular views, which fail to grasp the complex reality of attracting women’s vocations in our current era.    Some readers have criticized the piece itself as being misleading for stating too simply that almost equal numbers of women have been attracted to institutes in both conferences of women religious in the U.S. in recent years–without noting in the same paragraph that their are over four times as many LCWR orders as CMSWR orders in the study.  This is an important qualification, but since the authors pointed out this very distribution in the paragraph prior, I don’t think they were misleading anyone.  Perhaps a larger danger is that other commentators may fail to provide that same context. Continue reading