Are women more religious than men?

Women, especially among Christians around the world, generally are more devout than men by several standard measures, according to a Pew Research Center report released Tuesday.

In the United States in particular, women of all religions are more likely than men to say they pray daily (64 percent to 47 percent); attend religious services at least once a week (40 percent to 32 percent); and consider religion “very important” in their lives (60 percent to 47 percent).

The findings were part of a comprehensive look at religious practices by gender among Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and the religiously unaffiliated in 192 countries and territories.

Why the difference between the genders? The study delves into some theories, including “nature” (physical and physiological causes) versus “nurture” (experiences) factors, but lead demographer Conrad Hackett said no one reason can be pinpointed to explain “The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World.”

It’s an interesting topic to consider, however, as April approaches with two of the Diocese of Peoria’s largest celebrations along gender lines on the calendar.

On April 14, the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women will honor dozens of women from parishes across the diocese during its annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria.  These women have donated thousands of hours to their parishes and communities through Altar and Rosary Societies and women’s guilds, in music ministry and religious education, and by offering organizational and practical help for a variety of fundraisers and service projects. We hope that many show their support for these MVVs — Most Valuable Volunteers — by attending the luncheon. Reservations are due on April 5 and may be sent to Nympha White at 660 Myrtle Ave., Grand Ridge, IL 61325. The cost is $25.

Meanwhile, nine days later, hundreds of Catholic men will gather at the Peoria riverfront and process to St. Mary’s Cathedral as part of the 13th annual “A Call to Catholic Men of Faith,” known informally as the men’s march and Mass. It is a public stand in defense of faith, family and priesthood, and the sight of up to 1,000 Catholic men walking prayerfully through downtown Peoria never fails to inspire. We hope men throughout the diocese are organizing to join Bishop Jenky that Saturday morning for a host of reasons, but particularly this year in honor of longtime march chaplain Father Jerry Logan, who died following a brief illness in February. Further details on the April 23 event will appear in the next issue of The Catholic Post.

We can’t say whether women are more religious than men in the Diocese of Peoria. But as these approaching spring events testify, and experience shows in parish life, there is fervent devotion to the faith in both genders. And our families, our parishes, and our diocese are at their best when that is the case. — Thomas J. Dermody

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