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Post/ABC/Beliefnet Poll: The Catholic Church

Thursday, April 4, 2002

This Washington Post/ABC News/Beliefnet poll was conducted by telephone March 25-28,
2002, among a random national sample of 1,086 adults, including 503 self-identified
Catholics. The margin of error for overall results is plus or minus 4 percentage points,
and plus or minus 5 percentage points for Catholics. Fieldwork by TNS Intersearch
of Horsham, PA.

*= less than 0.5 percent

1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?
Do you approve/disapprove strongly or somewhat?

            ---------Approve---------   --------Disapprove-------     No 
            NET   Strongly   Somewhat   NET   Strongly   Somewhat    opin.
3/28/02     79       49         30      18       10          8         3
3/10/02     82       52         30      16        7          9         2
1/27/02     83       56         27      14        7          7         3
12/19/01    86       64         22      12        6          6         2
11/27/01    89       69         21       9        5          4         1
11/6/01     89       65         24       9        4          5         2
10/9/01     92       76         16       6        3          3         1
9/27/01     90       70         20       6        3          3         4
9/13/01     86       63         23      12        6          5         2
9/9/01      55       26         29      41       22         20         3
8/12/01     61       28         33      31       17         14         8
7/30/01     59       28         30      38       22         17         3
6/3/01      55       27         28      40       22         18         6
4/22/01     63       33         30      32       16         16         5
3/25/01     58       NA         NA      33       NA         NA         8
2/25/01     55       NA         NA      23       NA         NA        22

2. Overall, would you say you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the Catholic Church?

                ------Favorable------     ------Unfavorable----     No
                NET   Very   Somewhat     NET   Somewhat   Very     op.
3/28/02  All    55     NA       NA        34       NA       NA      11
         Cath.  73     NA       NA        24       NA       NA       3
2/20/02  All    63     NA       NA        27       NA       NA      11
         Cath.  88     NA       NA         9       NA       NA       4
8/30/99* All    68     32       36        19       12        9      13          
*Wash Post/Kaiser/Harvard

3. (CATHOLICS ONLY) How satisfied are you with the leadership provided by (READ ITEM)
- very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied?

3/28/02

Summary Table:

                                                              Don't know
                     ----Satisfied-----   ---Dissatisfied---    priest    No
                     NET   Very   Smwt.   NET   Very   Smwt.    (vol.)    op.

a. Your parish 
   priest/priests    86     57     29      8      3      5         5       1       

b. Your bishop       76     40     36     17      6     11        NA       7

c. The Pope          79     41     38     18      4     13        NA       3

Trend:

a. Your parish priest/priests

                                                     Don't know  
            ----Satisfied-----   ---Dissatisfied---    priest     No
            NET   Very   Smwt.   NET   Very   Smwt.     (vol.)    op.
3/28/02     86     57     29      8      3      5         5        1        
7/18/01*    87     56     31      7      2      5        NA        6 
9/28/95     80     48     32     11      4      7        NA        9
8/5/93      78     44     34     14      5      9        NA        8
6/4/92      80     53     27     11      4      7        NA        9 
*7/01 and previous, Time/CNN.

b. Your bishop

            ----Satisfied-----   ---Dissatisfied---    No
            NET   Very   Smwt.   NET   Very   Smwt.    op.
3/28/02     76     40     36     17      6     11       7   
7/18/01*    81     42     39      6      1      5      13
9/28/95     73     35     38     12      4      8      15  
8/5/93      75     30     45     11      3      8      14
6/4/92      74     45     29      9      4      5      17
*7/01 and previous, Time/CNN.

c. The Pope

            ----Satisfied-----   ---Dissatisfied---    No
            NET   Very   Smwt.   NET   Very   Smwt.    op.
3/28/02     79     41     38     18      4     13       3        
7/18/01*    84     59     25     12      2     10       4
9/28/95     83     48     35     11      4      7       6
8/5/93      81     32     49     15      2     13       4
6/4/92      86     57     29      7      4      3       7
*7/01 and previous, Time/CNN.

4. (CATHOLICS ONLY) Do you think the church should do more to involve
lay people in deciding church policies and practices, or is it
doing enough?

             Do      Doing       No
            more     enough     opin. 
3/28/02      54        42         4

5. Currently, Roman Catholic priests cannot get married. Do you favor
or oppose that policy?

                      Favor     Oppose     No opin.
3/28/02 All             21        66          13
        Cath.           34        60           6

10/1/95 Cath.           37        61           1

8/8/93  All             26        65           9
        Cath.           39        58           4

8/23/87 All             28        56          16
        Cath.	        45        49           6

3/24/86 All             25        58          17
        Cath.           46        50           5

6. Currently, women cannot become priests in the Roman Catholic Church.
Do you favor or oppose that policy?

                      Favor     Oppose     No opin.
3/28/02 All             28        64           8
        Cath.           35        61           4

10/1/95 Cath.           33        65           2

8/8/93  All             26        67           6
        Cath.           34        63           2

8/23/87 All             30        60          10
        Cath.           42        53           5

3/24/86 All             26        62          11
        Cath.           43        53           4

7. In your opinion, how much of a problem is the issue of sexual abuse of children
by Catholic priests - would you say it's a major problem that demands
immediate attention, a less immediate problem or not much of
a problem at all?

                   Major      Less immed.     Not much      No
                  problem       problem        at all      opin. 
3/28/02 All         76            16             6          2
        Cath.       71            19             9          1
2/20/02 All         60            26            12          3
        Cath.       48            29            21          2

8. Would you call this issue a crisis for the church, or not a crisis?

                 Yes     No     No opin. 
3/28/02 All      80      19         1 
        Cath.    71      28         1

9. Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Catholic Church has handled
the issue of sexual abuse of children by priests? Do you approve/disapprove
strongly or somewhat?

                 ---------Approve---------   --------Disapprove-------     No 
                 NET   Strongly   Somewhat   NET   Strongly   Somewhat    opin.
3/28/02 All      19        5         14      67       49         18        14
        Cath.    28       12         16      66       45         21         6

10. (CATHOLICS ONLY) Do you approve or disapprove of the way (READ ITEM)
handled this issue? Do you approve/disapprove strongly or somewhat?

3/28/02

Summary Table:

                                                             Don't know
                    -----Approve-----   ---Disapprove----      priest      No 
                    NET   Strg.  Smwt.   NET   Strg.  Smwt.    (vol.)     opin.
a. Your own parish
   priest/priests   67     45     22     12      6      6         6        14
 
b. Your bishop      54     29     25     30     16     14        NA        16

c. National leaders 
   of the Catholic 
   Church           41     14     26     52     31     22        NA         7 

11. Do you think that sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests is something
that happens very often, somewhat often, infrequently, or very rarely?

               --------Often--------     --------Not often-------   Never      No                    
               NET    Very    Smwht.     NET    Infreq.    Rarely   (vol.)    opin.
3/28/02 All    50      17       33       43       21         22        *        7
        Cath.  38      11       27       57       30         27        1        4
2/20/02 All    38      11       27       55       28         26        *        7
        Cath.  30       5       24       65       31         34        0        5

12. Do you feel that the Catholic Church is or is not doing enough
to deal with this issue?

                   Doing      Not doing     No  
                  enough       enough      opin.
3/28/02 All         26           64         11
        Cath.       39           57          5
2/20/02 All         22           64         14
        Cath.       37           50         13

13. (and 14) Has the issue of sexual abuse of children by priests hurt the overall
reputation of the Catholic Church in your eyes, or not? (IF HURT
REPUTATION) Has it hurt the church's reputation
in your eyes a great deal, or only somewhat?

                  --------Hurt reputation--------                           
                          Grt.     Some-      No        Has not hurt     No 
                  NET     deal     what      opin.       reputation      op.
3/28/02 All       69       38       31         1             29           2
        Cath.     64       35       28         1             35           1
2/20/02 All       59       26       31         1             39           3
        Cath.     51       24       27         1             47           2

15. Do you think Catholic priests are more likely than other men to sexually
abuse children, less likely, or about the same?

                  More     Less     Same     No opin.
3/28/02 All        15       14       69          2  
        Cath.       8       19       72          1
2/20/02 All        11       20       66          3  
        Cath.       4       31       61          4

16. Sometimes when a priest has been accused of sexually abusing a child,
the church has responded by transferring that priest to another parish,
without telling parishioners about the accusation. Do you approve or
disapprove of that practice? Do you approve/disapprove strongly, or
somewhat?

               --------Approve--------   --------Disapprove-------    No 
               NET  Strongly  Somewhat   NET   Strongly   Somewhat    op.
3/28/02 All     4       2        2       93       85         9         2
        Cath.   7       4        3       92       84         8         1
2/20/02 All     4       2        2       94       85         9         2
        Cath.   8       5        3       89       76        13         3

17. For each of the following items I mention, please tell me if you think it
contributes to the problem of sexual abuse of children by priests, or not. (IF
CONTRIBUTES TO PROBLEM) Do you think it's a major part of the problem
or a minor part?

3/28/02

Summary Table:

                                    ----Part of Problem----     Not       No 
                                    NET     Major     Minor     part     opin.
a. The church's policy of not 
   allowing priests to marry        
        All                         76        41        35       21        3
        Cath.                       74        38        36       25        1
b. The church's policy of not 
   allowing women to be priests     
        All                         55        18        37       42        3
        Cath.                       54        19        35       44        2
c. The practice of transferring 
   priests accused of sexual 
   abuse to another parish          
        All                         92        80        13        6        2
        Cath.                       93        77        16        5        2
d. The practice of not calling 
   the police when a priest is 
   accused of sexual abuse          
        All                         94        84        10        3        3
        Cath.                       93        79        14        4        3
 e. A reluctance in the Church 
   to dismiss priests because 
   of a shortage of priests         
        All                         82        57        25       12        7
        Cath.                       83        56        27       13        3
f. A lack of Vatican oversight 
   of the Catholic Church in 
   the United States                
        All                         70        33        37       20       10
        Cath.                       72        30        42       21        7

Trend where available:

a. The church's policy of not allowing priests to marry

                  ----Part of Problem----     Not       No 
                  NET     Major     Minor     part     opin.
3/28/02 All       76        41        35       21        3
        Cath.     74        38        36       25        1

Compare to:

As you may know, the Catholic Church does not allow priests to marry. Do you think this
policy contributes to the problem of sexual abuse of children by priests, or not?
(IF CONTRIBUTES TO PROBLEM) Do you think it's a major part of the problem
or a minor part?

                  ------------Contributes-----------      Does not       No
                  NET     Major     Minor     No op.     contribute     opin.
2/20/02 All       55        36        17         1           41           4
        Cath.     40        24        16         1           56           4

b,c,d,e,f. No trend.

18. (and 19) If a parish priest is accused of sexually abusing a child, do you
think church officials should or should not inform his parishioners of the charge? (IF
SHOULD INFORM) Should the church be required by law to do that, or should it be up
to the church to decide?

                  ---------Should inform---------     Should not       No
                  NET     Law     Church   No op.       inform        opin.
3/28/02 All       89       65       22        2            9            2 
        Cath.     83       60       22        1           13            3
2/20/02 All       89       62       26        1            8            3 
        Cath.     85       58       26        1           12            3

20. (and 21) If a priest is accused of sexually abusing a child, do you think
church officials should or should not report that information to the police? (IF
SHOULD REPORT) Should the church be required by law to do that,
or should it be up to the church to decide?

                  ---------Should report---------     Should not       No
                  NET     Law     Church   No op.       report        opin.
3/28/02 All       97       81       15        1            2            1 
        Cath.     97       78       17        2            2            1  
2/20/02 All       97       80       15        2            2            1 
        Cath.     95       75       18        3            3            1

22. (CATHOLICS ONLY) Do you think your diocese should or should not publicly report
the amount of money it has paid to settle lawsuits against priests accused of
sexually abusing children?

            Should     Should not       Has already         No 
            report       report        reported (vol.)     opin. 
3/28/02       72           25                 *              3

23. (CATHOLICS ONLY) Do you think your diocese should or should not publicly release
the names of priests who have been accused of sexually abusing children?

            Should      Should not       Has already        No 
            release      release       released (vol.)     opin. 
3/28/02       71            26                1              2

24. In the past, do you think church officials have mainly tried to prevent sexual
abuse of children by priests, or mainly tried to cover up the problem?

                  Prevent     Cover up    Both (vol.)     No opin. 
3/28/02 All          16          74             3             7
        Cath.        23          66             4             7

25. And how about now, do you think church officials now are mainly trying to
prevent sexual abuse of children by priests, or mainly trying to cover up
the problem?

                  Prevent     Cover up    Both (vol.)     No opin. 
3/28/02 All          43          46             5             6
        Cath.        60          31             4             4

26. How confident are you that the Catholic church can solve the problem of sexual
abuse of children by priests - very confident, somewhat confident, not too
confident or not confident at all?

                  -------Confident-------  ------Not confident-----     No         
                  NET    Very   Somewhat   NET    Not too   At all     opin.    
3/10/02 All       56      16       40      41        23       19         2
        Cath.     72      31       41      26        19        8         2

27. Overall, do you think the recent news coverage of this issue has been fair
to the church, or unfair?

                 Fair     Unfair     No opin.
3/28/02 All       76        17           7
        Cath.     66        29           5

28. (CATHOLICS ONLY) Has this issue caused you personally to give less money in
donations to the church, to give more money in donations to the church, or has your giving
to the church remained about the same?

            Less     More     Same     No opin.
3/28/02       9        1       88          2

29. Overall, when you think of the way the church has handled the issue of sexual
abuse of children by priests, how would you say you feel about it - angry;
dissatisfied but not angry; satisfied, but not pleased; or are you pleased with the
way the church has handled it?

                --------Negative-------    --------Positive--------      No
                NET    Angry    Dissat.    NET    Satis.    Pleased     opin.
3/28/02 All     80       38       42       17       13          3         3
        Cath.   70       36       34       27       19          9         3

30. (CATHOLICS ONLY) Has this issue of sexual abuse by priests caused you to rethink
or re-examine your own personal faith, or not?

            Yes     No     No opin. 
3/28/02      14     85         1

31. (and 32) NET (CATHOLICS ONLY) Do you think there is any chance that you will
leave the Roman Catholic Church altogether in the next few years? (IF YES) Is that
very likely, somewhat likely or not too likely?

           ------Chance leave church------                  Has left
                 ---------Likely-----------     Will not    already      No
           NET   Very      Smwt.    Not too      leave       (vol.)     opin. 
3/28/02    11      5         5         *          85            3         2

31/33 NET (CATHOLICS ONLY) Do you think there is any chance that you will leave the
Roman Catholic Church altogether in the next few years? (IF YES) Is the
issue of sexual abuse by priests the main reason you might leave the church, a reason
but not the main one, or not a reason?

           ------Chance leave church------                  Has left
                  --Sex abuse as reason---     Will not     already      No
           NET    Main    Not main     Not      leave        (vol.)     opin. 
3/28/02    11       3         6         2         85            3         2

34. (CATHOLICS ONLY) How much do you trust your own parish priest around children - do
you trust him completely, a good amount, somewhat, or not much?

                                                              Don't know
          ---------Trust---------    ------Don't trust------    priest     No 
          NET    Comp.  Good amt.    NET    Smwt.   Not much    (vol.)     op. 
3/28/02   78      60        19       14        9        5          7        2
2/20/02   74      59        15       13        9        4         10        4

35. Are you aware of any instances in which a Catholic priest in your own community has been
accused of sexually abusing children, or not?

                 Yes     No     No opin. 
3/28/02 All       10     89        1 
        Cath.     13     87        * 

36. (CATHOLICS ONLY) As far as you are aware, have any priests in your own parish
been accused of sexually abusing children, or not?

                          Don't have
            Yes     No   parish (vol.)   No opin. 
3/28/02      6      91        2              1

37. (NON-CATHOLICS ONLY) As far as you are aware, have any clergy in your own
religious congregation been accused of sexually abusing children, or not?

                            Don't have a
            Yes     No    congregation (vol.)   No opin. 
3/28/02      6      94           *                  *

38. As far as you're aware, do you have any relatives or personal friends who've
been sexually abused as a child by a Catholic priest, or not?

                Yes     No     No opin. 
3/28/02 All       3     96         *
        Cath.     5     95         *

39. Aside from weddings and funerals, how often do you attend religious services - at least
once a week, a few times a month, or less often than that?

                                       Less than     Never       No
                Weekly     Monthly      monthly      (vol.)     opin.
3/28/02 All       40         19           38           3          0    
        Cath.     43         23           32           2          0
2/20/02 All       38         16           41           5          *    
        Cath.     38         15           43           3          0

© Copyright 2002 The Washington Post Company


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