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June 13, 2024 — We presume listeners to this podcast are interested in the state of the Catholic Church in North America. But if you stop to think about what you know about the church, or how you think you know what you now, you might realize your picture is incomplete. Maybe we parrot popular talking points about polarization or disaffiliation or frustrations with this or that church teaching. But so many of perspectives come from sitting where we sit — our age, race, class, gender, geography, political and ecclesial preferences, and so on. And because the Church is so diverse and multifaceted, we need to expand my vision if we want to more fully understand the complexity of our community today.

Dr. Tricia Bruce is a perfect conversation partner to help broaden our perspective. Dr. Bruce is a sociologist of religion with expertise in U.S. Catholicism, and has studied and written about topics like polarization in the church, the landscape of Catholic parishes in America, and American attitudes toward abortion. She has numbers and stories from surveys and focus groups and interviews that help give her a wide, deep view of the U.S. Catholic Church.

Dr. Bruce’s award-winning work has appeared in publications like The Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine. She keeps extremely busy in several concurrent positions: She is Director of Springtide Research Institute; faculty fellow of the University of Southern California’s Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies; President-Elect of the Association for the Sociology of Religion; and Consultant to the Vatican’s General Secretariat of the Synod.

Host Mike Jordan Laskey asked her about how the sociology of religion is done, and what topics she is most curious about these days. They talked about polarization, interesting trends religion researchers are noticing, and what she might want to tell high-level decision makers in the church about what she is learning.

Read the Associated Press article referenced in the conversation.

AMDG is a production of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States.

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