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Study Commissioned By Diocese Of Camden Turns Up Troubling Findings

By Mark Abrams

CAMDEN, Nj (CBS) -- A study commissioned by the Diocese of Camden has turned up some troubling findings for church leaders. A report released on Thursday showed more than half of those who were surveyed and identify themselves as Catholics don't even have a basic understanding of their own faith.

Bishop Joseph Galante said the study by the Barna Group of Ventura, California was commissioned to find out why Catholics aren't going to Mass on a regular basis and what the religious attitudes of people are in the six-county South Jersey region encompassed by the diocese.

According to Galante, the results will be used to reach out to Catholics who have fallen away from the church and to retain those who still do take part, even if in a limited role.

Galante said he was surprised by one particular finding.

"Fifty-seven percent of Catholics had a very woeful understanding of who Jesus is," he said. "They thought he sinned, he was like no different from the rest of us. That really troubled me."

The bishop said it's time for the church to get back to teaching the basics of faith and emphasizing the importance of establishing a personal and spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ.

Galante added until a faith foundation among Catholics is built, it's not likely they will understand or even accept the rationale behind the moral teachings of the institution.

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