While the reader survey conducted by U.S. Catholic found an overall negative reaction to the new Mass translations (75 percent of 1,231 priests and 70 percent of 1,208 lay people said they disagreed that the new translations have had a positive effect on their participation and/or prayerfulness during Mass), the CARA survey was much more upbeat.
According to the CARA survey, seven in 10 Catholics agreed with the statement, “Overall, I think the new translation of the Mass is a good thing.” Twenty percent agreed “strongly” while 7 percent “strongly” disagreed.
The CARA survey noted that Catholics who attend Mass weekly are most likely to see the new translation of the Mass as a good thing. In this group, 84 percent “strongly” agreed with the changes. In contrast, 63 percent of those who identified themselves as rarely or never attending Mass agreed.
The new survey is similar to one conducted by CARA in 2011, before the changes at Mass were introduced. Both surveys included common questions such as, “I have a good understanding of the meaning of the prayers recited by the priest and people at Mass.” In both surveys, the responses were similar.
CARA’s 2012 survey was completed by 1,047 self-identified Catholics, age 18 and older, with a sampling error of 2.8 percentage points.
Why such a difference in responses in these two surveys? There are probably a number of factors, including the way questions were presented to respondents. The editors at U.S. Catholic are not professional researchers and they admitted as much.
In a blog entry posted on the U.S. Catholic website after the release of CARA’s survey, the editors note that CARA pollsters are “top notch researchers who conduct scientific studies.”
“Our poll, on the other hand, is never meant to be scientific — we allow any and all visitors to our website to complete the survey, only weeding out spam and duplicate responses,” they added.
So while U.S. Catholic admits that CARA’s findings are more believable, church leaders should not disregard responses from their readers, who took the time to offer their feedback rather than waiting for pollsters to contact them.
And all of this begs the question: What do our readers think about the word changes at Mass? Are you more inclined to agree with the CARA survey? Why not share your thoughts via email or by letter? Our contact information is on this page in the “About Letters” section. We’ll publish as many responses as we can in future editions.