Rev. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D. Headshot


  • Sociology
  • School

  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • Expertise

  • Sociology of Religion
  • Catholic Social Thought
  • Gender theory and sexual orientation
  • Abortion
  • The Conjugal Family
  • The Rev. Donald Paul Sullins, Ph.D., taught sociology at Catholic University for 20 years before retiring in 2015 to devote himself to full-time research. He has written four books and over 150 journal articles, book chapters and research reports on issues of faith and culture, including in Social ForcesAmerican Journal of Sociology, Demography, Sociology of Religion, Southern Medical Journal and JAMA Pyschiatry.

    Dr. Sullins' work focuses on the application of quantitatve methods to pose fresh theoretical questions or insights on questions of cultural import from a faith-informed perspective. His study topics include Catholic priests, particularly clergy sex abuse, married priests, and priest demography; the conjugal family; and emotional problems among post-abortive women and children with same-sex parents. Since 2015, he has given dozens of keynote addresses, lectures and presentations at scholarly and popular conferences in Europe and the United States. Dr. Sullins is Senior Research Associate of the Ruth Institute, Director of the Leo Initiative for Catholic Social Research, and Fellow of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies. He serves on the Board of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, where he is also chaplain. Formerly Episcopalian, Fr. Sullins is a married Catholic priest with an inter-racial family of three children, two adopted.

    Selected Recent Publications

    "Receding Waves: Child Sexual Abuse and Homosexual Priests Since 2000." Chapter 12 in Adolphe, J.F. (ed.), Clerical Sexual Misconduct with Males: An Interdisciplinary Analysis. (Providence, RI: Cluny Media, 2020).

    Affective and Substance Abuse Disorders Following Abortion by Pregnancy Intention in the United States: A Longitudinal Cohort Study. Medicina 2019, 55, 741.

    Is sexual abuse by Catholic clergy related to homosexuality?”  National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, vol. 18 no. 4 (Winter 2018): 671-697. 

    Danish-like regulations may improve post-abortion mental health risk.” Refereed comment, with Donna Harrison, M.D. Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Psychiatry), October 2018.   

    “No Wedding’s a Wedding without a Cake’: The History and Significance of the Wedding Cake.”  The Natural Family, vol. 31 no. 2 (2017): 149-164. 

    Sample Errors Call Into Question Conclusions Regarding Same-Sex Married Parents: A Comment on ‘Family Structure and Child Health: Does the Sex Composition of Parents Matter?’ Reczek et al.  Demography, October 2, 2017.

    "Developmental Outcomes for Children with Same-sex Parents: What We Know, and What We Do Not Know." Pages 79-97 in Canzi, Elena, Same-Sex Parenting, Filiation, and Related Topics: A Critical Research Review.  Notebook 29, Center for Family Studies, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart.  (Milan, Italy: Vita e Pensiero, 2017).

    "The Tragedy of Divorce for Children." Chapter 2, pp. 19-40 in McCarthy, Margaret (ed.), Torn Asunder: Children, the Myth of the Good Divorce, and the Recovery of Origins.  (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2017).

    Supreme Court of the United States, Brief of Amici Curiae Mark Regnerus, Paul Sullins et al in Support of Petitioners, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd., and Jack C. Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (Joseph E. Holland, Counsel of Record), for Alliance Defending Freedom.

    "The History of the 1980 Pastoral Provision." The Catholic Historical Review.  Summer 2017:95-124.

    Keeping the Vow: the Untold Story of Married Catholic Priests. (Oxford University Press, 2015).

    The Conjugal Family: An Irreplaceable Resource for Society. With Pierpaolo Donati, eds. (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2015).