Poll: Catholics agree with Pope Francis that church is ‘obsessed’ with moral issues


(RNS) Pope Francis rocked the Catholic world last month when he gave a wide-ranging interview in which he declared that the church had become “obsessed” with a few moral issues and needed to find a “new balance.”

Parishioners listen to the homily during Catholic mass at St. Therese Little Flower parish in Kansas City, Mo. on Sunday, May 20, 2012. RNS photo by Sally Morrow

Parishioners listen to the homily during Catholic Mass at St. Therese Little Flower parish in Kansas City, Mo., on Sunday, May 20, 2012. RNS photo by Sally Morrow

This image available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Now a new poll indicates that American Catholics think he’s right, and by a wide margin.

The survey, released Friday (Oct. 4), by Quinnipiac University, shows that two in three (68 percent) adult Catholics questioned said they agreed with the pontiff’s observation that the church has become too focused on issues such as homosexuality, abortion and contraception.

Just 23 percent disagreed, and the breakdown was virtually the same across age groups and among both weekly Mass-goers and those who attend church less frequently.

The national poll — conducted the last week of September — also showed that American Catholics have a favorable (53 percent) or very favorable (36 percent) opinion of Francis, and just 4 percent view him negatively.

“American Catholics liked what they heard when Pope Francis said the church should stop talking so much about issues like gay marriage, abortion and contraception,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

The survey also found that Catholic support for same-sex marriage continues to be strong, as other surveys have found, with six-in-10 Catholics approving of gay marriage and 31 percent opposed. That’s slightly above the national 56 percent approval rating.

But the latest research also indicates that support for same-sex marriage only drops slightly among weekly churchgoers, to 53 percent, with 40 percent opposed. That finding could cause consternation among social conservatives who argue that the most devout Catholics tend to support the hierarchy’s position against gay marriage.

Another finding likely to provoke concern among tradition-minded church leaders: Catholics support the idea of ordaining women priests by a 60-30 margin; it only drops to 52-38 percent among those who attend service about once a week. There is almost no gender gap in that support.

The number of Catholics surveyed was not large — 392 adult Catholics out of an overall selection of 1,776 respondents, and the margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points. But the trend lines seem to be in keeping with other research.


The post Poll: Catholics agree with Pope Francis that church is ‘obsessed’ with moral issues appeared first on Religion News Service.

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barry waterfield

There is a place for the church in the modern world and the Pope is right to point out that so long as people obsess over a narrow range of issues it begins to be seen as a club and a club which for most people means nothing. Far from concentrating on homosexuality and contraception we should be looking at the huge failure of heterosexual marriage, a failure that cannot be laid on the ‘Gay Boys’ doorstep. The figures for divorce are truly shocking and by extension I should imagine the figures for adultery are pretty impressive, yet rarely do church members concern themselves. Likewise contraception. Most people with any sense, in or out of the church, use contraception. There are already too many people in the world, we have a requirement to be responsible. I myself do not like abortion but provided it is carried out at the proper time then I’ll just have to let that one go for now, but here again a wholesale acceptance of contraception would reduce this over time I would think. The Bible may say this and it may say that but whether or not it is the word of God is for each individual to decide, one thing I can say for certain is that it was written by the hand of man and the hand of man at a time when far more stringent societal control was imposed upon a more primitive people, this does not mean that we should continue to accept without relevant understanding, the requirements of our own times.

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