CHAPEL HILL, N.C., June 4 (UPI) -- A survey by University of North Carolina sociologists finds Roman Catholic teenagers feel no more guilty about sex, cheating or birth control than their peers.
Christian Smith, who has moved on to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, and Stephen Vaisey questioned 3,290 teenagers ages 13 to 17, including 819 Catholics, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. The Catholics were 24 percent of the group, equivalent to their percentage in the population.
The teens were asked two questions: "In the last year, how often, if ever, have you found yourself feeling guilty about things in your life?" and "How much, if any, of those feelings of guilt do you think were caused
by religious influences?"
Smith said that teenagers may not know enough about church teachings to feel guilty for breaking the rules.
"They haven't internalized it, or they disregard it," said Smith.
The survey found teenagers observant enough to take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation, formerly known as confession, do not feel more guilty than other Catholics. But they do report that the rite relieves them of guilt feelings.