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Keeping the VowThe Untold Story of Married Catholic Priests$
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D. Paul Sullins

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199860043

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860043.001.0001

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Why Did the Married Priests Convert?

Why Did the Married Priests Convert?

(p.89) 4 Why Did the Married Priests Convert?
Keeping the Vow

D. Paul Sullins

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the conversion decisions of the married Catholic priests in the context of the sociology of religious conversion. Overlaying the range from internal influences to external influence with the range from pull to push factors results in a four-part typology of conversion decisions due to conscience, identity, community, and persecution. Linguistic analysis of the married priests’ conversion accounts shows that their decisions were intellectual conversions of conscience and identity, having little to do with community or persecution. Issues of authority and truth are prominent; for a third of them with distinct characteristics, truth was extremely important. Three-fourths of them grew up as Protestants, a high proportion from weak or mixed religious households, and are double converts, having converted to the Episcopal Church before later converting to Catholicism. One in eight are serial converts, having switched religions three or more times.

Keywords:   Catholicism, conscience, religious conversion, truth, sociology of religious conversion

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