Data from the World Values Survey, gathered by researchers in 58 countries, tends to bear out impressions of a conservative trend. It shows that the “millennial generation” of young Catholics - those born in 1982 or later - has returned to the traditional religious attitudes and behavior of generations born before World War II, said Mark M. Gray, a research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. The values survey, coordinated by the University of Michigan, has been conducted periodically since 1981 by researchers who pool their data and make it available to scholars.
Catholics in the “millennial generation” are more likely to attend Mass weekly, pray every day, feel that religion is important and have a lot of confidence in the church than Catholics in either the Vatican II generation (born 1943 to 1960) or those in the Post-Vatican II generation (1961 to 1981), he said.
Sister Mary Bendyna, executive director of the Georgetown center, said young Catholics seemed to be “more receptive to the church, they participate more than their Generation X brothers and sisters, and are a little less cynical about institutions in general, the church included.”
They are theologically conservative, but not conservative across the board when it comes to political issues, she said.
“They are more involved in traditional conservative religious practices, but they’re very receptive to social justice messages about serving the poor,” she said.