A Matter of Discretion: The Politics of Catholic Priests in the United States and Ireland
Rowman & Littlefield, Apr 12, 2017 - Religion - 222 pages
Clergy are pillars of local religious communities, and Roman Catholic priests are perhaps the quintessential examples of pastors functioning as political elites. The political science literature demonstrates that priests (indeed, clergy more generally) are well-positioned to influence the faithful, even if this influence is somewhat inconsistent. At their core, priests are opinion leaders and representatives of their church to both the faithful and their local communities.
But exactly how Catholic priests determine the political acts and attitudes associated with their elite role remains a puzzle. We suggest it is the product of an interactive institutional, social, and psychological milieu, the complexity of which has not been fully assessed in the extant literature. Though some might prefer to think of priests as profiles in courage operating above the political fray, the institutional and personal realities of priest life often forces them to deal with the political realm. In doing so, priests are variably responsive to different principals, or reference groups, that represent specific dimensions of their professional context. Drawing on a series of randomized experiments on samples of Roman Catholic priests in the US and Ireland, we find that priests cognitively draw on varying professional and personal cues in responding to their employer’s institutional preferences. Furthermore, how priests represent their church's political preferences to parishioners appears to be a matter of individual-level discretion.
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Chapter 3 Reflecting on Ministry and Politics
Chapter 4 The Dynamics of Priest Cue Reliance
Chapter 5 Cognitive Frames Group Cues and Priest Political Responses
Chapter 6 Priest Discretion in the Field
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256 Irish priests abortion activity assessment attitudes and behavior Bishop Cues Bishop Ideology bishops and parishioners burnout chapter Chi2 church doctrine clergy politics literature Coefficient Bootstrap S.E. cognitive frames communion congregations context control group Control Personal Treatment cue reliance cue selection Cues Personal Treatment Debbie denominational Direct Effect discretion elites Fianna Fáil Fine Gael first-order cue immigration independent variable moves influence Institutional frame Ireland level of agreement Likert scale Log-Likelihood means Min->Max ministry Multinomial Logit one’s Parishioner Cues percent Personal frame Personal Treatment Institutional political attitudes political behavior political efficacy political issues position Priest Age priest political priest response Priest/Bishop Priest/Parish priests assigned Priests Irish Priests pro-choice pro-life question randomly assigned reference groups reference-group expectations religious institutions Replications Roman Catholic Church same-sex marriage second-order cue social statistically significant structural equation models tion treatment group Treatment Institutional Treatment U.S. and Irish U.S. Priests Irish USCCB