Filling Pews, Speaking Truth: Pro-Life Ministry in a Liberal Catholic Parish

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


Scholars of the pro-life movement in the United States have extensively documented how pro-lifers in this country feel that their cause is embattled by society (Williams and Blackburn 1996; Maxwell 2002; Munson 2008). Other research argues that conservative Catholics tend to feel that their Church is swept up in an increasing liberalization in greater society, which serves to compromise core moral tenets of the faith (Leege 1988; Weaver and Appleby 1995; Wedam 1993). No thorough research exists examining how pro-life Catholics see their Church's and their parish's liberalism as directly suppressing their pro-life work. In this ethnographic study of a pro-life ministry in a liberal Catholic parish in the U.S., I studied how ministry participants experience their parish's liberal culture and its effects on advocating the pro-life cause. I conducted ten interviews, observed ten masses and one pro-life ministry-sponsored event, and conducted a content analysis of parish documents, as well as those distributed by non-profit pro-life groups that receive donations from the ministry. Through these methods, I determine that the ministry participants define their parish as liberal in culture based on the political causes it emphasizes, as well as its advocacy of "political correctness." I furthermore examine the ways in which ministry participants resist their parish culture in order to advance the pro-life cause, as well as use their parish culture to advance it.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
Date of AwardMay 13 2018
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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