Survey: Majority of Catholics share bishops' religious liberty concerns
WASHINGTON — A majority of Catholics say they share the U.S. bishops' concerns about the federal contraceptive mandate and other government restrictions on religious liberty, and the percentage of Catholics who say they are satisfied with the bishops' leadership has increased sharply in the past 10 years.
Catholics who attend Mass more frequently are more likely to agree with bishops' concerns on social issues, and those who attend less frequently show less support for their views on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
Those opinions, made public Aug. 1, were among the results in a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
The survey showed that 64 percent of Catholics have heard about the bishops' objections to the Department of Health and Human Services' contraceptive mandate. Twenty-two percent say they have heard a lot about it, and 32 percent of Catholic churchgoers say their priest has spoken about the issue at Mass.
Among Catholics who are aware of the bishops' concerns on this issue, 56 percent agree with the bishops and 36 percent disagree. In the American population at large, 41 percent agree with the bishops and 47 percent disagree.
Although the survey showed that most Catholics aware of the bishops' concerns also agree with them, about half (51 percent) of Catholic voters said President Barack Obama best reflects their views on social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, while 34 percent said the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney best reflects their views on these issues.
The survey results also gave high marks to Catholic leadership. Eighty-three percent of Catholics expressed satisfaction with women religious; 82 percent, with their own parish priests, 74 percent, with their diocesan bishop and the pope; and 70 percent, with U.S. bishops in general -- a significantly higher figure than a decade ago when the satisfaction rate for bishops was 51 percent at the height of the abuse scandal.
White Catholics who attend Mass frequently are more satisfied with the leadership provided by the pope, bishops and parish priests than are those who attend less frequently.
Those surveyed who said they were former Catholics are much less satisfied with Catholic leadership, rating their satisfaction level at 31 percent for U.S. bishops; 38 percent for the pope; and 55 percent for women religious.
According to the survey results, neither Obama nor Romney has established a consistent lead among Catholic voters. Currently, 51 percent of Catholic registered voters said they support or favor Obama, while 42 percent said they support or favor Romney. Among all registered voters, 50 percent favor Obama, while 43 percent back Romney.
The Pew survey was conducted by phone June 28-July 9 with 2,973 adults, including 619 Catholics. It had an overall margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.
— Catholic News Service
Total love for Jesus is the measure of a man of God, pope tells bishopsVATICAN CITY — The depth of a bishop or priest's love for Jesus and his willingness to give up everything for God are the litmus test for how well the pastor is fulfilling his ministry, Pope Francis said. "We are not the face of an organization...
Pope Francis to visit birthplace of his namesake on saint's feast dayVATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will visit the birthplace of his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, on the saint's feast day, Oct. 4. The Vatican confirmed the trip May 23. Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi said he was thrilled about the...
Be salt of the earth, not 'museum Christians,' pope says at MassVATICAN CITY — Christians are called to be the salt of the earth, and if they don't share the flavor of their faith, hope and love with others, they are simply "museum Christians," Pope Francis said. "Salt has meaning when it gives flavor...
Pope says Christians must recognize good others do, work with themVATICAN CITY — Christians are called to welcome and cooperate with the good accomplished by members of other religions or no religion at all, promoting a culture of dialogue and peace, Pope Francis said. "We are all children of God -- all...
Pope, visiting shelter, says Christian charity is witness of God's loveVATICAN CITY — Marking the 25th anniversary of the Missionaries of Charity soup kitchen and women's shelter at the Vatican, Pope Francis said that while unbridled capitalism has taught people that money is more important than anything else,...
Struggle for power in church is sin, pope says at MassVATICAN CITY — Careerism and a drive to seek power in the church are sins as old as the church itself, Pope Francis told a group of employees from Vatican Radio and from the Vatican's office for pilgrims and tourists. Commenting on the day's...
Vatican denies pope performed public exorcismVATICAN CITY — When Pope Francis solemnly laid both hands on the head of a young man in a wheelchair and prayed intently over him for several minutes, he was not performing an exorcism, said the Vatican spokesman. The young man, who was among...
When church is too serious, it loses its loving, tender side, pope saysVATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church needs to revive its loving and tender side, which gets lost when the church becomes too serious, Pope Francis said. The church has ended up with "deviations, sects and heresies when it got too serious, that...
Recognize your sin, ask forgiveness, pope says at MassVATICAN CITY — The key problem in everyone's relationship with God is not that they sin, but that they are not ashamed of their sin and don't ask forgiveness, Pope Francis said. In a homily about St. Peter's relationship with Jesus, Pope...
Pope says head of mission office teaches him about reality of churchVATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which cares for the church in mission territories, has been teaching him about the nuts and bolts reality of the universal Catholic Church. "He...