(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 is 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.

KRE/AMB END GIBSON

38 Comments

  1. This sampling of a very small number of Catholics found that 42 percent think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Opposition to abortion is highest among those who attend church regularly and, most notably, among younger respondents. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been to the March for Life, which is probably the nation’s largest annual youth fest. While these young people would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned, they are more focused on making abortion unthinkable.

  2. With 60 percent of American Catholics already jettisoning their Official Catechism and supporting gay marriage, it’s no surprise that they agree with the new Pope. They, like the American gay activists, know that Francis has given the green light and will not “interfere” (his term).

    A majority of American Catholics also voted for Obama’s re-election in 2012, knowing full well that Obama had openly promised to promote legalized gay marriage.

    This is a time of disaster for American Christianity. Spiritual disaster now, and national disaster…not far away.

      • Mike…What exactly is hopeful about Amercian Catholics supporting same-sex disordered counterfeit unions? Or hopeful in that Catholics are ignorant of the Church’s teaching and are in danger of losing their souls?

      • Richard….This country has supported and looked the other way while over ’55′ million innocent young lives have been destroyed …I don’t think that can be called a country ‘getting better’….
        And now approving of gender identy disorders..first gay, lesbian, next transgender, bi-sexual…what’s next?…We’re losing our soul and some people are completely clueless especially in the Church.
        It reminds me of this pamphlet I read once…’Sing A Little Louder’ when the trains carrying the Jewsih victims to the death camps, the Churches would sing a little louder to drown out the sound of the trains..That’s what is happening to our country and our Church…Getting better…I don’t think so…

  3. Earold Gunter

    Could it be that “We the people” are getting tired of the very same thing that was the spark for this great nation, which was religious persecution of a people for not accepting the religious beliefs of others?

    Before someone tries to school me, let me expound. I know that the puritans had a stricter interpretation of the Bible than the church of England did, and that is why they left, but it was religious persecution none the less.

    Religions in general, more especially “super power” religious institutions like the Catholic Church, and more recently the Mormons have been forcing their beliefs down the throats of not only Americans, but other peoples around the world for many years.

    Perhaps, finally, Americans are growing tired of it, and want to get back to the roots of freedom this great nation was founded on. Freedom to believe what they want to believe, which includes not believing in any religion, or even in a God at all.

    We could start a political party to help drive this nation back to its grass roots. It could be called the “We party”.

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

    Consider living life, and loving people, without needing to believe in any reward for doing so, or punishment for not.
    Good day!

  4. Catholics should vote for another Pope. I find really disgraceful for a Pope to talk in this way. A Pope that find an ‘obsession’ to talk about gay marriage, abortion, contraception. The first thing, he said to the people when he was proclamed Pope was ‘ NOW YOU PRAY FOR ME ! ‘ with a selfish demanding voice. Normally, you would expect the new Pope to pray for the people attending or watching him, this was the his first gesture as a Pope. The message was clear to almost everyone.
    ‘I am here now to take what he has been assigned to me’. Now he finds the moral issues which are the core part of the Catholic religion for centuries, ‘an obession’ ? This ex-priest from Portugal is clearly not suitable for the role as Pope.

  5. Catholics should vote for another Pope. I find really disgraceful for a Pope to talk in this way. A Pope that find an ‘obsession’ to talk about gay marriage, abortion, contraception. The first thing, he said to the people when he was proclamed Pope was ‘ NOW YOU PRAY FOR ME ! ‘ with a selfish demanding voice. Normally, you would expect the new Pope to pray for the people attending or watching him, this was the his first gesture as a Pope. The message was clear to almost everyone.
    ‘I am here now to take what has been assigned to me’. Now he finds the moral issues which are the core part of the Catholic religion for centuries, ‘an obession’ ? This ex-priest from Portugal is clearly not suitable for the role as Pope.

    • OMG, are you serious??? He makes the greatest gesture seen by a Pope beginning his pontificate: expressing genuine humilty, asking for prayer, as a sign of acknowledging his own human limitations… so WONDERFUL to see!

    • ThomasMichigan

      “Selfish and demanding”? You have absolutely no understanding of human emotion. He was humble. Something we all should be before condemning others as you’re doing.

  6. As a lifelong Catholic and Catholic apologist of over 16 years, I ignore this pope. He could have been a fair pope, but after his interviews, his papacy is now a wash. He has totally embarrassed the Church. I no longer defend him.

  1. […] Compare Jimmy and Kathy with David Gibson of the Religion News Service. Also a Commonweal blogger, to say Gibson hates your orthodox guts…is entirely accurate. As he demonstrated on his Facebook page today, … gloating about the discomfiture of people who actually believe in what marriage really means, that abortion is evil, who struggle to follow Humanae Vitae: “Don’t worry about your right flank, Pope Francis — American Catholics have your b… […]

  2. […] In a recent survey released by Quinnipiac University on October 4 last year, 68 percent of adult Catholics polled said they agreed with the pontiff’s recent statements that the Church has focused too much on issues of homosexuality, abortion, and contraception. http://www.religionnews.com/2013/10/04/poll-catholics-agree-church-focused-issues-support-gay-marria… […]

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