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. kerberusII@aol.com

    polls are as useful as the "sound of rats feet over broken class in a dry cellar". but the polls do fill up dead space in the internet hole.

    October 6, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
  2. Mark

    If you believe God doesn't exist, does all your effort to convince people to believe like you really matter? After you and I die, nothing happens. Science says the sun is going to engulf the Earth in a billion years. It's all going to end for everyone one way or another. Why such passion? Yet, if you believe in God, then everything does matter, in this life and the after life!

    October 6, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • ga2w4gq2345

      "If you believe God doesn't exist, does all your effort to convince people to believe like you really matter?"

      Yes. Because these people who can't demonstrate basic reasoning abilities also get to vote and breed.

      October 6, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
      • Absence of original screen name

        Do you think yourself so high above others humans that you should dictate another human beings right to vote or reproduce? Not believing in something invisible is logical. Promoting one's self above others isn't.

        October 6, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
        • Pest

          It looked to me like the poster was justifying trying to motivate people to be reasonable, not prevent them from voting and breeding.

          October 6, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    October 6, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Keith

      Rush limbaugh has said that "if you tell a lie enough times people will believe it is true", on this single point he is CORRECT.
      Prayer changes NOTHING, but the church continues to say it does and the sheep who are incapable of independent thought believes it does.
      Just constantly repeating this mantra is getting tiresome, just put up or shut up.
      Are you aware of the studies that were carried out comparing the effect of praying or not praying over sick patients. The result showed that with the majority of patients there were NO discernible benefit for praying, however for many patients who had positive outcomes NO prayers were said.

      October 6, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Keith

      Rush limbaugh has said that "if you tell a lie enough times people will believe it is true", on this single point he is CORRECT.
      Prayer changes NOTHING, but the church continues to say it does and the sheep who are incapable of independent thought believes it does.
      Just constantly repeating this mantra is getting tiresome, put up or shut up, lets have some PROOF.
      Are you aware of the studies that were carried out comparing the effect of praying or not praying over sick patients. The result showed that with the majority of patients there were NO discernible benefit for praying, however for many patients who had positive outcomes NO prayers were said.
      Stop praying and start thinking

      October 6, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
      • dude

        Rush said stop posting the same thing more than once.

        October 7, 2013 at 8:02 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        It wasn't Rush, it was Joseph Goebbels

        October 7, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
      • Polycarp

        Because Keith YOU, yourself don't want to prayer to work, incidentally you pray without knowing it, in a very informal manner.

        October 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  4. Brenda Nickel

    I agree. I believe by focusing all these social issues it leads us away from the more important things such as, love. The Lord even warned about that. I learned you can not pay attention to political alignment either. For example, Im against abortion,of course, but Republicans just use it to sway votes. Bush had 2 years with complete control of both branch3s 9f government and not once was it mentioned. They are not serious. Also how can you be against abortion yet not for any social programs. its just bull. I am convinced they only use it as a voting issue.

    October 6, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
  5. Mark


    October 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Is there a point to this?

      October 6, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  6. loki

    Now....I'm a former Catholic. But if I could, I'd fire the entire gay crew. Find all new priests & nuns. And marriage is allowed. The new church.

    October 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • JJ

      If some church is divine then why would it every need changing? Sounds like it's created by humans and nothing more.

      October 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
  7. LOL

    another man wearing a dress, telling everyone to live like 1AD in 2013......religions the scrouge of the world

    October 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • esieffe

      ...and you wear how many dresses?

      October 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  8. MIchael

    Jesus mentions LGBT issues at least twice in the Gospels:

    1) He meets a gay man, via the Roman Centurion trying to heal his pais (a Greek term used to convey the younger male in a gay couple) and said of him, "Never have I seen faith greater than this." Jesus did not then end it with "now go and sin no more". In fact, Jesus wanted to go hang out over at the guy's house and eat dinner.

    2) Jesus mentions gay men as 'born eunuchs' as one of the three types not meant for marrying women. Born eunuchs were used by kings to guard their harems because the kings knew these men were not interested in women.

    3) It is believed when Jesus says, in Matthew, "Whomever calls his brother raca...", 'raca' is the term we now use as the three letter f-word.

    October 6, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      Reliable references to support your comments?

      October 6, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
      • MIchael

        If you actually cared to know the truth you could easily Google the topic.

        October 6, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          Obviously, you could not find any reliable references to support your conclusions.

          October 7, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
      • Polycarp

        Intellectual laziness comes to mind.

        October 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
  9. John

    It's a sad day when the Pope is not leading his flock to the path of recognizing their sins and the need to stop and repent and to go to Mass to go to confession and receive the most Blessed Host! He is supposed to be leading people to their path to heaven (salvation). He says....Who am I to say they are not going to go to heaven? Really???? It's his job to tell people heaven and especially hell are real places! It's even a more sad day when Jesus comes back and most of the population is damned and it will be too late for them. And guess what everyone......the end times will happen! Surprise, surprise! Have a nice day!

    October 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Maybe he doesn't believe that heaven and hell are real. After all, there is no evidence that such places exist.

      October 6, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Observer


      Speaking of Jesus, what did he say about gays?

      October 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
      • Observer

        In Biblical times there were no "gays" only filthy ho mose xuals and they were called abomination by Jesus.

        October 6, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • MIchael

      Hey John, the original text of the Bible never condemned gay people. It's been rewritten by men to justify, and make money, off of their hatred of the day.

      October 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • sam stone

      it's a sad day when people think that anyone else speaks for god

      October 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • sam stone

      Wow, The End Times

      Jeebus is coming back

      Annnny time now

      yes sir

      Annnny time now

      October 6, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
      • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

        ... cricket ... cricket ... cricket ...

        October 6, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • esieffe

      Why can't Christians live their faith? You can't just choose ignore this sin and go with that one. Do not judge! It is between God and that person what they do, not God, that person, and John! The lord talked a lot more about love, and being a good neighbor than he did about gay people. Francis is right! Get over it!"

      October 6, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Songnerd

      I would argue that by teaching his flock to love thy neighbor and stop being so judgmental, he IS guiding them on a path toward Heaven. After all, he is a man, and it's God's place to judge.

      October 6, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • mariah

      John you do realize that God made gays as he made all human beings don't you? Can you find any Bible story whereby God asks gay people to un-gay themselves, go and repent their 'gayness?. Can you find any whereby Jesus condemns a crowd of gays in the town square?

      October 7, 2013 at 8:26 am |
  10. yep

    ever wonder what it must feel like to be a child of clergy abuse and the cover ups,, to find out your fellow parishioners support the abusers and those who covered it up, over you.

    Destroyed lives, many mentally ill due to the abuses and others committed suicide.

    What a wonderful bunch of catholics

    October 6, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Polycarp

      Actually one of the abused children is now a Roman Catholic Priest. The question, what is YOUR claim to fame???

      October 13, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  11. sam stone

    looks like the catholic church is being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. that a jump of what, 500 years?

    October 6, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • yep

      as they change, most will realize how ridiculous the entire organization is.

      We should pay attention as to how they set the example on caring for their abused children by clergy and the cover ups.

      oh,, other people did it too. Si it's OK.

      lobby to stop laws that would help all children of abuse, no matter who abused

      call victims of destroyed lives, liars

      What a wonderful organization. Full of hypocrites

      October 6, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  12. JJ

    This pope is doing all he can to divert attention away from their rape of tens of thousands of children and, of course, the catlick sheep are so glad to see it happen and pretend it's all ancient history. Although the rapes continue, the sheep now have a pope who can allow them to be less ashamed. Lipstick on a pig.

    October 6, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • Honesy

      the catholics don't care about the lost lives of many victims. It doesn't bother them that many children became mentally ill due to the abuse.

      Some catholic parents severely punished their own children when the child came to them crying from the abuse.

      Catholics are on a selfish salvation trip lead by con men, the pope and his thieves.

      October 6, 2013 at 9:58 am |
      • Bayou_Disqus

        Please don't presume to speak for 1/3 of the world's christians. Catholics such as myself were disgusted by the scandals, and I am glad that my parish made changes to address these issues. Please understand that there are many wrongs that go on in this world; people cannot be expected to remain outraged over events that occurred several years ago, especially if it didn't happen to them, nor do they want it to be the subject of every conversation.

        October 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
        • yep

          and what have you done to help the abused?

          Your donations help the catholic bishop lobby efforts to stop laws that would help victims. You and your church continue to deny children victims.In fact your church's lobby efforts now deny all chilcren abused, no matter who abused.

          October 7, 2013 at 6:01 am |
  13. RCC is a big Lie

    You'd think an organization who actually cared for human life would have made certain all victims of abuse were cared for.

    Instead this organization lobbied to stop laws that would help the victims.

    A good example of evil in this organization.

    October 6, 2013 at 8:08 am |
  14. Sara

    I think US Catholics, as they have for the last 60 years, overestimate the likelihood of change and so hang on...

    October 6, 2013 at 8:07 am |
  15. don't lie to yourself

    meanwhile the catholic church continues its lobby efforts to stop laws that would expose pedos and the worst crimes of cover up.

    Only .05% of victi8ms ever helped and that's due to laws which changed in California and Maryland.

    So far the catholic church has stopped Bills from becoming law in areas of the greatest concentration of pedos, NY, OH and PA

    October 6, 2013 at 7:58 am |
  16. don't lie to yourself

    ..Bad ti-tle.. US catholics DON'T back the pope..

    Yes, the pope changed opinions for popularity sake to get cathoholics back, The pope's PR guys aligned with polls.

    October 6, 2013 at 7:55 am |
  17. Reality # 2

    Again, what Francis should have said:

    The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

    The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

    See p. 2 of the commentaries for added details.

    October 6, 2013 at 7:34 am |
  18. NOTA

    Pretty sure that bears still crap in the woods, but I'm starting to wonder about the pope being catholic.

    October 6, 2013 at 7:02 am |
  19. Diggity

    I like this Pope. He brings a fresh new appeal to the Church that's been lacking for generations. However, he may need to continue tread cautiously for a little longer. The conservative right–where the majority of the pedophiles hide out–may go medieval on him with dire consquences.

    October 6, 2013 at 5:16 am |
    • don't lie to yourself

      yes, and he continues the cover ups of crimes against children.

      October 6, 2013 at 8:00 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.