Poll: American Catholics agree with pope about culture wars
October 4th, 2013
10:25 AM ET

Poll: American Catholics agree with pope about culture wars

By Dan Merica, CNN
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Washington (CNN) – American Catholics overwhelmingly support newly installed Pope Francis, according to a poll released Friday, and agree with his statements that the church should focus less on contentious social issues.

Nearly seven in 10 American Catholics say the church has become too focused on same-sex marriage, abortion, and contraceptives, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released Friday.

What's more, 60% of American Catholics support same-sex marriage, a number that continues to be larger than support from all American adults. Thirty-one percent of American Catholics said they do not support same-sex marriage.

This number is consistent with other polls, like a Public Religion Research Institute poll in 2012 that found 59% of American Catholics support same-sex marriage.

Despite the support among American Catholics, the Roman Catholic Church maintains rigorous opposition to same-sex marriage. But in a recent wide-ranging interview with America Magazine, the pope brushed off critics who have said he should be more vocal in trumpeting the church's position on abortion and same-sex marriage.

In the interview, Francis said if the church fails to find a "new balance" between its spiritual and political missions, its moral foundation will "fall like a house of cards."

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods," he told his Jesuit interviewer. "I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that."

But the pope said the church's teachings on those issues are clear, and he clearly believes in those teachings, so what else is there to say?

"It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time," Francis said.

The poll also found 36% of American Catholics say abortion should be legal in most cases, compared to 34% of all Americans.

“On the two issues that have prompted some pulpit thundering, same-sex marriage and abortion, Catholics are right in line, or even a little ahead, of their non-Catholic neighbors,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

While the poll shows support for Francis' statement on social issues, American Catholics appear to disagree with the pope on the ordination of female priests.

According to the survey, 60% of American Catholics support women priests, while 30% are against it.

Earlier this year, Francis emphatically closed the door on women's ordination, telling an audience that the "door is closed" to that possibility.

In his recent interview, Francis reiterated this statement but said that does not mean the church should see women as secondary or inferior.

"Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed," the pope said. "The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role."

Overall, American Catholics are roundly supportive of the new pope, with a whopping 89% saying they have either a very favorable or favorable view of Francis. Only 4% say they have an unfavorable view.

Quinnipiac interviewed 392 Catholics by telephone from September 23-29. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

- CNN's Eric Marrapodi and Daniel Burke contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Abortion • Polls • Pope Francis • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (791 Responses)
  1. Polycarp

    Cultural Wars isn't what you just people actually think it is. Most of us here in the U.S. of A. are from different cultural backgrounds. This implies people with Irish cultural background UNDERSTANDS things differently than people with German Cultural background. For those who are interested, to naturally eliminate one's own cultural background ( which would amount to cultural suicide of ones actually true real self ) 3-5 generations which is equivalent to about 300-500 years.

    October 13, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  2. Joshua

    In other words, 60% of American Catholics are not really Catholics. They should find themselves a Protestant denomination whose pulpits they can preach from and whose filth they can smear themselves with as western civilization slowly rots.

    October 12, 2013 at 7:07 am |
  3. maias

    Why aren't women priests allowed in the Catholic Church? At it's saviour's hour of greatest need, as he was dying on the cross,, all his male disciples ran away. It was his female disciples who stayed to dress him for burial, and it was to a woman that he gave the first apostolic mission :"Go, tell them I have arisen".

    So perhaps male priests can perform the rituals at Christmas, while female priests should have the honour of leading the Easter rituals since the male disciples irredeemably disgraced themselves at that important event.

    October 11, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Polycarp

      As difficult this is to believe, MAN was created by God, whole and complete ( this would imply in the strictest definition, MAN did NOT need a female helpmate ) for God, Himself. Woman was created by God, FOR man.

      October 13, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  4. 1959Viking

    What a majority believes is not always relevant. What is right is the discussion we should be having.

    “What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.”
    ― Albert Einstein

    October 9, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  5. dude

    I dont go on advanced dungeons and dragons forums posting about how stupid it is, so why do the atheist come here?

    October 7, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • sam stone

      because no one is trying to deny others their civil rights based on dungeons and dragons

      it is a public forum

      if that bothers you, too bad

      October 7, 2013 at 8:11 am |
      • dude

        I had to turn Catholic because you guys didn't let me battle the evil mage with my ice bow.

        October 7, 2013 at 8:21 am |
  6. dude

    I must have missed the part of the artice where it asked for atheist to chime in with their whitty, condescending remarks.

    October 7, 2013 at 7:27 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      I must have missed the disclaimer that stated only certain people could post on this page....

      October 7, 2013 at 7:38 am |
      • dude

        873 words into the article...

        October 7, 2013 at 7:54 am |
        • religion; a way to control the weak minded

          LOL get a job...

          October 7, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • sam stone

      How about the christians with their condescending comments, or their unsupported claims, or (my favorite) the empty proxy threat.

      Are you okay with those, dude?

      October 7, 2013 at 8:14 am |
      • dude

        Tubular with everything...All is gnarley here

        October 7, 2013 at 8:22 am |
  7. FrenchChef

    Don't bother to whine about this poll, boys, it's 100% consistent with many previous polls, not, of course, about the new Pope but about American Catholics supporting marriage equality for their LGBT relatives.

    Large, close-knit, extended Catholic families all have LGBT members, and will always place the welfare of their family members over the crass political machinations of the over-politicized bishops. These bishops have violated their tax-exempt status by interfering in our political process. While the bishops don't talk about dwindling contributions for political reasons (hey, they're Republicans) we know they are closing churches all over America and don't seem to be willing to finance anti-gay marriage equality votes any more.

    October 6, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
    • Oh boy

      You are a real Catholic, I can tell, good for you. Catholics stand for tolerance and understanding, not this garbage coming from the fundamentalists

      October 7, 2013 at 2:33 am |
    • yep

      the headline is screwed up.. It is not that the catholics back the pope. It's the pope shifting views to align with secular society, as recommended by his PR team.

      i think he should address the child abuse and expose the truth. Then again, he's part of the cover up

      October 7, 2013 at 6:04 am |
  8. gustav

    A poll of 392 people is not representative, the poll should be no less than 1000 people. Also is not saying from where the poll was taken a catholic state or liberal satiate, for me is a fake and fraud poll.
    anyway pope Francis is a joke, what you can expect from a men with his background, bad choice the church made.

    October 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • Oh boy

      Your no Catholic, why are you posting here?

      October 7, 2013 at 2:34 am |
      • religion; a way to control the weak minded

        LOL learn the english language before telling people where they can or cant post....

        You're = you are......

        October 7, 2013 at 10:32 am |
      • MasterWooten

        Few of these people are Christian let alone Catholic. This is CNN where the liberlas and moral relativsist come to play. Pretty soon this is going to be known as Fox News Left!

        October 7, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
        • VoiceOfSanity

          You say Fox News left as meaning, I surmise, lacking total credibility and nothing more than a joke? CNN will have to fall an awful long way before they should be mentioned in the same breath as Fox News (unless it's something like, CNN is bad but not completely a fraud like Fox News). Keep smiling.

          October 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
      • Johnny Boy

        Seriously? A word of advice... Next time you say something stupid, at least make sure it's grammatically correct. That way, we can laugh at you for one reason at a time.

        October 8, 2013 at 10:39 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.