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Survey of American Catholic Priests, 1985




Hoge, D. R. (2021, October 5). Survey of American Catholic Priests, 1985.


This survey, part of a larger study of the priest shortage, uses important components from the 1970 National Opinion Research Center (NORC) priest survey conducted by Greeley and Schoenherr. One-third of the dioceses and religious institutes from the earlier survey were randomly selected. Questionnaires were sent to 28 dioceses and 29 institutes, with a return rate of 86.8 percent or N=1,062.

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Data File

Cases: 1062
Variables: 163
Weight Variable: 163)WT

In 1970 Schoenherr and Greeley oversampled large dioceses and used a weighting formula to redress the proportions of priests from large and small dioceses. This research used the same weights, taken directly from Schoenherr's research reports (pp. 440-441 from Schoenherr's 1989 report, The Catholic Priest in the U.S.: Demographic Investigations by Richard Schoenherr and Lawrence Young). When both diocesan and religious priests were studied together, this study weighted the two types to be sure their proportions were correct.

Data Collection


Funded By

The Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Collection Procedures

Self-administered mail surveys

Sampling Procedures

In 1970 a National Opinion Research Center team set out to survey a random sample of American priests at the request of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. "The researchers used a stratified two-stage cluster sample with probabilities proportional to size. In the first-stage sample, 85 of the 155 American dioceses and 91 of the 252 self-governing units of religious institutes were selected. In the second-stage sample, 7,260 of the approximately 64,000 American priests were selected, 5,155 of whom returned usable questionnaires, yielding a response rate of 71 percent.

The data for the 1985 analysis were collected during the spring and summer of 1985. The study was designed to be a partial replication of the 1970 study, involving a smaller sample and shorter questionnaire. From the dioceses and religious institutes contained in the first-stage of the 1970 survey approximately one-third were randomly sampled. From the lists of priests they supplied, 12.5 percent were selected randomly, resulting in total of 1,224. Of these, 1,062 returned usable questionnaires resulting in a response rate of 87 percent." (Verdieck, Shields, and Hoge, 1988, p. 526).

Principal Investigators

Dean R. Hoge

Related Publications

Hoge, Dean R., Joseph J. Shields, and Mary Jeanne Verdieck. 1988. "Changing Age Distribution and Theological Attitudes of Catholic Priests, 1070-1985," Sociological Analysis 49:3 264-280.

Verdieck, Mary Jeanne, Joseph J. Shields, and Dean R. Hoge. 1988. "Role Commitment Processes Revisited: American Catholic Priests 1970 and 1985," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 27:4 524-535.

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