CBS/NYT poll about the reaction of Americans to the recent clerical sexual abuse controversy

I was alerted to the following by a long-time reader.

A poll conducted by CBS and Hell’s Bible (aka the New York Times) finds that, in spite of the efforts of the MSM, the Holy Father’s popularity has actually risen.

April 28-May 2, 2010

The Vatican receives criticism from Catholics and from Americans overall for its handling of the recent reports of sexual abuse of children by priests; most think it’s done a poor job. But majorities of Catholics and Americans say that has not affected their views of the Catholic Church, and positive views of Pope Benedict XVI among Catholics have risen since March.

Few Catholics say views of their religion generally or their involvement in their church has been affected by the reports of abuse. While four in ten Catholics say the recent abuse reports have caused them to doubt the Vatican’s authority, only about one in ten have questioned their Catholicism, become less involved in their church’s activities, attended Mass less often or donated less money.

There is a good deal more. 

Keep in mind that the MSM had some objectives in the recent stirring of controversies.  The poll reflects the interests of the NYT as well.

Also note that the poll refers to "the Vatican", which is so vague as to be nearly meaningless.

Here are some excerpts from the findings:

(among Catholics)
         All        Weekly Mass
Yes   40%     28%
No    55         69

Despite the pontiff’s leadership role in the Church hierarchy, 77% of Catholics say a person can be a good Catholic yet not accept the Pope’s authority.
Few report any impact on their own faith or involvement in the Catholic Church. Just one in 10 Catholics say that as a result of the recent reports of child abuse, they have questioned whether they would remain in the Catholic Church. Almost all Catholics who attend Mass weekly say they have not questioned whether they would remain in the Catholic Church.

(among Catholics)
Yes 9%
No 86

Similarly, nearly all Catholics say the reports have not affected how comfortable they are around their own parish priest.

(among Catholics)
More comfortable 4%
Less comfortable 6
No effect 88

Fewer than one in ten Catholics report they are less likely to be involved in the Church or attend Mass because of the recent reports of abuse.

(among Catholics)
Involvement in Church activities
More likely 9%
Less likely 11
No effect 77

Mass attendance
More likely 4%
Less likely 10
No effect 82

79% of Catholics say they or other family members in their household have given money to a Catholic parish or organization in the past year, and most Catholics say their financial contributions to the Church have stayed the same. 14% say they have given less to the Church because of the recent sexual abuse reports.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. stgemma_0411 says:

    I find myself saying something to the effect of, “And gates of hell shall not prevail against thee.”

    I’m actually quite heartened by the lack of effect this whole thing has had on the populace. Restores my hope that humanity may be turning a corner with its relationship to the media and how they draw their information and form their perceptions.

  2. chcrix says:

    Typical poll with a purpose.


    Of course I do. All the time. With this proviso. That it involves areas where the church can’t speak with special authority.

    For example, many of the economic nostrums put out by the Vatican since Leo XIII are plain silly. (Do a google search on ‘Thomas Woods” and “economics” to find out why.)

    I have always been puzzled that both Catholics and non-Catholics seem to think that the authority of the church extends to every area of human endevor. Must be a hangover from old protestant fears about papalism. Funny that it should be accepted by Catholics though.

  3. “Despite the pontiff’s leadership role in the Church hierarchy, 77% of Catholics say a person can be a good Catholic yet not accept the Pope’s authority.”

    As they did not publish the actual question asked, I wonder how leading and/or easily confusing that question was when asked.

    Papal authority on what though? Church teachings? Daily life?

    One may not actively think about Papal authority, but if you live your life according to Church teachings, by virtue of living that life you are accepting that authority, as Papal authority kind of has a lot to do with Church teachings.

  4. JayneK says:

    And here is a story not all over the front pages of major newspapers:–Society-Examiner~y2010m5d3-Sexual-exploitation-of-children-in-Arizona-schools-reaches-epidemic-level

    It contains, among other interesting information: “the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.”

  5. JamesA says:

    Assuming that the poll is reasonably accurate, I think this contains good news and bad.
    We are in a world of hurt if “77% of Catholics say a person can be a good Catholic yet not accept the Pope’s authority.” That means we basically have a Church full of Protestants. And yet…despite all the Kool-Aid that rank-and-file Catholics seem to have guzzled, there is still a basic loyalty to the Church — almost in spite of themselves. This loyalty is not all good news, because I think a lot of it is based in complacency and habit. A lot of these folks are Catholic despite the nonsense they believe because they are nominal/ cultural Catholics, not because they really know what it MEANS to be Catholic.
    But in the end, that’s probably better than nothing. If they are still in (or at least around) the Church, then they can still be catechized.
    St. John Vianney, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Joseph — ora pro nobis !!!

  6. irishgirl says:

    Polls….who cares about them? I am soooo tired about ‘polls’….

  7. TJerome says:

    The Times will be devastated. The reality is, I think more and more folks are onto the Slimes and the media.

  8. JayneK says:

    I’m not sure what I am doing wrong with that link. There is a thread about it on Fish Eaters and the link works from there.,3429701.0.html

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