A significant majority of Catholics say that their church should spend more time focusing on poverty and less on issues like abortion, contraception and same sex marriage.


The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) on Tuesday released its 2012 American Values Survey, which indicated that 60 percent of Catholics were more interested in social justice and only 31 percent thought that traditional social conservative values were more important, according to Reuters.

A slim 51 percent majority of Catholics who attended church one or more times a week also agreed that the church's attention should be on poverty.

The findings seemed to contradict the significance that U.S. Catholic bishops have placed on fighting LGBT and reproductive rights.

The study also found that nearly 20 percent of Americans were religiously unaffiliated, a number that has doubled since 1990. Of those, 36 percent considered themselves to be atheists, 39 percent were "seculars" and 23 percent said they were "unattached believers."

As for the presidential race, Catholic likely voters were evenly divided, with 49 percent favoring President Barack Obama and and 47 percent preferring Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. At 97 percent, black Protestant likely voters overwhelmingly supported Obama. Romney drew his largest support from white evangelical Protestant likely voters, at 76 percent.

Earlier this year, a number of Catholic dioceses and schools sued the Obama administration over a mandate that requires all employers, including religious institutions, to offer contraceptive coverage for women in their health plans.

Last month, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki warned that voting for President Barack Obama could damn “your own soul” to hell.