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. Mr Everyman

    Where is my post ?

    October 6, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      It may not have posted. Did you have naughty two-letter combinations anywhere? Like "c um" for "doc ument?" or "v ag" for "v a gue?"

      October 6, 2013 at 11:35 am |
  2. Some guy

    This is the best pope in my lifetime. I do agree that the politics the church has been involved in only sully her image. There's no sense in continuing down that road. Focus on your actual mission.

    October 5, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • don't lie to yourself

      yes, because he can deflect from the child abuses and let those abused suffer on their own.

      October 6, 2013 at 8:01 am |
  3. Mary

    Of course they back him, he isn't changing athing, just not talking about it.

    October 5, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
  4. haime52

    Side stepping or ignoring controversial issues can't be continued forever. Sooner or later they rise up, put both hands on your face and say, "LOOK AT ME!"

    October 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • mustardseedhead

      Side stepping or ignoring controversial issues can't be continued forever. Sooner or later they rise up, and you will have to face your maker who may put both hands on your face and say, "LOOK AT ME!"

      October 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
      • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

        Face my maker? You mean my mother and father? No – too late; they're both dead.

        October 6, 2013 at 6:49 am |
  5. bam

    Santorum, Akin, Bachman and the rest of the Christian Taliban dont...

    October 5, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  6. snowboarder

    christianity teaches that the innocent can be made to suffer for the sins of others, as in hereditary sin, and that the sinful can be redeemed by the suffering of the innocent, the supposed christ.

    that is incredibly backward.

    October 5, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • truth about catholic

      and if you remember, in Africa, those with aides thought they could be cured with a relationship with a virgin

      October 5, 2013 at 10:36 am |
      • mustardseedhead

        That had nothing to do with the bible, but everything to do with a pervert's twisted interpretation of it. Nothing more.

        October 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
        • don't lie to yourself

          it might have very well made it into the bible comic book.. It flows well with the bible

          October 6, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • psych

      correct. In fact the #1 cause to lawlessness is abuse to small children,

      It amazes me people would work hard to weigh the 'good' works of this organization, yet its done none. It has caused more harm to children on this planet than any other organization.

      The catholic church raises funds to get their cut first. They then hand the money over to one of their groups who now declares 90% of the money is used for the cause.

      This is an organization caught money laundering in the USA in the late 80's and just recently in Italy.

      Why are we giving them grant money, Billions of dollars. They run catholic charities off our tax dollar while pretending it's all them.

      October 5, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • joeb

      Where did you get this crazy OT idea that the innocents are made to suffer for the sins of others. Back to Catholic 101 for you!

      October 5, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • Polycarp

      That is correct, to shame us to be doing that, ourselves, instead of being INDIFFERENT to other's.

      October 13, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  7. snowboarder

    of course American catholics support him, his views are more reasonable than any heard in the past.

    October 5, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • truth about catholic

      keep in mind that the POPE changed his views to match the polls,, has zero to do with catholics agreeing with him.

      He wouldn't have marketed this new view if the cathoholics weren't leaving the church

      October 5, 2013 at 10:38 am |
      • joeb

        Not even CNN at its worst ever suggested anything like that.

        October 5, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • mustardseedhead

      The Pope is not God. Just because he calls leniency upon sin, does not make him right. There is only one God and His word never changes, regardless of which Pope says what to whom. Any vision or messages that distracts and diverts away from God's word will be judged by God – not another Pope.

      October 5, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
      • joeb

        Would you have said that in the days of John Paul II or Benedict XVI? Or do you say it now because Francis is challenging you to get out of your comfort zone?

        October 5, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
      • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

        There IS only ONE god! And his name is THOR! Oh, and Zeus ... that's two gods, not one. What? Okay, okay – Mars, God of War – certainly. Three, but that's it! Ra? Manitou?

        Hmmm – seems like there isn't ONE god, but thousands!

        October 6, 2013 at 6:52 am |
      • sam stone

        "judgement" is a bad joke designed to fool the gullible


        October 6, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  8. truth about catholic

    people were asked questions about abortion, same $ex marriage.. INDEPENDENT of ANY connection to the pope.

    The pope is losing cath-oholics as they are being cured of their religious brain-washing and needs to do something to get them back.

    The pope, with help of his PR team, create a view to aligns with the polls already taken.


    October 5, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • truth about catholic

      it's the pope agreeing with people to save his magic kingdom or royal gold, while small children starve.

      October 5, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Some guy

      I'm catholic. Not at all religious but I do keep it for my heritage. There is a lot of very interesting history in the church. People kind of make it out to be an evil organization but that's not at all what I see. The majority of what they do (outside of church) is running hospitals, schools, charities, and things like that. I haven't personally experienced any wrongdoing and I've been around it pretty much my whole life. Like anything, it's a very big thing with lots of people and you'll always get some bad apples. It's just a shame they didn't handle some of their bad apples better. That said, the church's actions won't affect how much I enjoy reading St. Augustine's works, histories of the saints, things like that.

      October 5, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • joeb

      And exactly who is this mythical PR man? You have a very active imagination.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
  9. truth about catholic

    the catholic church is a middle eastern religion mind set.

    It's OK that small children's lives were destroyed and it's OK that women are treated as 2nd class citizens.

    WAKE UP!!! It's a religion with rituals beginning in childhood that cause children to fear as later adults to the filth of this religion and its history.

    Catholics go to a dumpster for their religion..

    October 5, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Polycarp

      It is NOT our fault that some females cannot afford to fly in 1st class. Do you understand how expensive that is??? Next you'll be telling us that those same females cannot manage their own money properly.

      October 13, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
  10. victim of abuse by priests

    I only hope that people when they look at catholics they are reminded of a religion that enabled the destruction to small children's lives.

    when you look at a catholic,, remember that there are children who committed suicide and others who are mentally ill due to the abuse.

    Also remember when you look at a catholic, over 99.05% of victims never received help or a penny from this organization. Why? because the catholic support and donations enable the catholic church to lobby successfully to defeat the already defeated children.

    October 5, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • HotAirAce

      An organization that continues to shelter criminals. . .

      Why won't Pope-A-Dope release everything about pedophiles within the RCC? What is he hiding? How many children did he abuse? How many criminals is he protecting?

      October 5, 2013 at 9:29 am |
      • victim of abuse by priests

        some of the bishops who are loved by catholics are pedos. Children's lives destroyed.

        One who sod-om-ized me is a bishop. He lobbies with the other bishops to stop laws that would expose the truth.

        The bishops goals are to squash the truth, deny the victims and be loved by catholics.

        When I see a catholic going in a church, it makes me sick to my stomach.

        October 5, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  11. calvin

    Of course they will back him. His views are not God's words.

    October 5, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • sam stone

      of course, calvin, you are authorized to speak for god

      October 5, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • snowboarder

      how would anyone know what gods words are. every religious text was written by men.

      October 5, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  12. sodom-ized

    how about child abuse victims? Oh,, those destroyed lives don't matter. the truth of cover ups orchestrated by the vatican, don't matter.

    The catholic church has lots of PR money to create an image in which sheep are eager to consume.

    Well, it seems to be working, the catholic church is winning the catholics back.. just like the Inquisition.

    October 5, 2013 at 7:32 am |
  13. iggy

    I am Catholic, but gay marriage is not a problem for me. Whether you are gay or straight, you are sinful if you have sinned. However, abortion is a murder. only for life threat reason, abortion may be needed. Most cases are not. People only want pleasure. They don't want to be responsible. Here is a funny story: one time a woman of one child went to a doctor and asked for abortion because she already has one child, saying that she wanted only one child. The doctor replied, " it is not easy to kill the one in your womb and it may threaten your life too. Why don't you kill the one outside if you want one child."
    Abortion is must never ever be legalized. There must be only exception to the rule.

    October 5, 2013 at 6:02 am |
    • Mirosal

      Abortion IS legal, and has been upheld by the highest court since 1973. You're a little late aren't you? Iggy, when you grow a uterus, then maybe you can have an opinion. Until then, STFU. The last thing any woman needs is a man who has no clue what she's going through giving her orders as to what to do with her own body. It is our job to support HER decision, whatever it may be, not to make the decision for her. If your god has a problkem with that, then tell it to come on down and tell us in person. And don't start to quote bible verses at us, that stuff was written for a society long since dead.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:14 am |
    • SixDegrees

      "you are sinful if you have sinned. "

      Christian doctrine holds that you are sinful if you exist, because you inherit the sins of Adam and Eve. You're born in a state of sin; that's the default, in the christian view of the world.

      October 5, 2013 at 8:58 am |
      • sam stone

        To me, that is another reason it should be rejected

        October 5, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Honesyt and catholic just don't work well

      yeah, but child rap=e and so-dom-y are OK by this religion. And the worst crimes were the cover ups.

      You keep being a good catholic while children suffer at your church's hands, as they continue to lobby to stop laws that would expose the truth and deny children victims

      October 5, 2013 at 11:14 am |
  14. Cindy

    I am Catholic and I support Pope Francis' positions. It is time the church use empathy and understanding towards other people instead of bigotry. Although I certainly wouldn't want to get an abortion, I believe I cannot make that decision for other women who are in dire situations.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:18 am |
    • sodom-ized

      yep,, and the heck with the children with lost lives.. You are a good catholic.

      October 5, 2013 at 7:33 am |
  15. EdL

    Catholics back the pope? They certainly should, so far as they are concerned the pope is the Infallible One.

    October 4, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
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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.