Two-Thirds of American Catholics Support Pope

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

In spite of the ongoing sex abuse crisis in the Church, a new poll by Zogby International has found that American Catholics overwhelmingly approve of Pope Benedict XVI, even though the majority believe both he and the U.S. bishops have done a poor job handling the sex abuse crisis.

When asked if they approve of the overall job performance of Pope Benedict XVI, 56 percent of American Catholics said they approved. The bishops received a lower grade with only 45 percent expressing approval and 44 percent saying they disapprove of the job the bishops are doing.

However, when asked specifically about how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with the sexual abuse situation within the Catholic Church, a plurality of American Catholics give negative ratings to both the Pope and the U.S. Bishops.

“Only 15% believe that Pope Benedict XVI has done an ‘excellent’ job addressing the sexual abuse situation within the Church, with 23% believing he has done a good job, 26% believing he has done a fair job and 30% believing he has done a poor job,” the report states.

Once again, ratings for American Bishops were much lower, with only 8 percent saying their efforts to address the sexual abuse situation within the Church has been excellent and 43 percent saying their performance has been poor. Twenty-nine percent gave them a “fair” rating.

While some have called for Pope Benedict XVI to resign as a result of the sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, the majority of Catholics do not believe he should step down.

“ . . .(A) clear majority of American Catholics believe Pope Benedict XVI should remain Pope,” Zogby found. “Only 16% believe the Pope should resign as a result of sexual abuse within the Church, while 64% believe he should continue as Pope, and 20% are unsure.”

This was conducted by Zogby International Apr. 30 through May 3, 2010 and involved   705 Catholics nationwide.

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