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Washington Post Poll: The Catholic Church

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

This Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone June 16 - 17, 2002, among a national sample of 1,004 randomly selected adults, including 355 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.
6/17/02     74       42         32      22       13          9         4
6/9/02      77       41         36      20       11          9         3
5/19/02     76       48         28      22       13          8         3
4/21/02     78       47         31      20       10          9         2
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.
6/17/02  All    45     NA       NA        47       NA       NA       9
         Cath.  69     NA       NA        28       NA       NA       3
6/9/02   All    47     NA       NA        45       NA       NA       7
         Cath.  70     NA       NA        28       NA       NA       2
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?

6/17/02
Summary Table:
                                                              Don't know
                     ----Satisfied-----   ---Dissatisfied---    priest    No
                     NET   Very   Smwt.   NET   Very   Smwt.    (vol.)    op.
a. Your parish 
   priest/priests    81     56     25     11      8      3         4       4       

b. Your bishop       65     32     33     26     15     11        NA       9

c. The Pope          72     32     40     25     17      8        NA       3

d. American bishops
   in general        51     12     39     42     27     15        NA       7


Trend:

a. Your parish priest/priests
                                                     Don't know  
            ----Satisfied-----   ---Dissatisfied---    priest     No
            NET   Very   Smwt.   NET   Very   Smwt.     (vol.)    op.
6/17/02     81     56     25     11      8      3         4        4        
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.
6/17/02     65     32     33     26     15     11       9   
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.
6/17/02     72     32     40     25     17      8       3   
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.


d. No trend. 

4. 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    op.     
6/17/02  All   19        5         13      77       58         19        4
         Cath. 27        8         19      70       51         19        3
4/30/02* All   19        7         12      63       48         16       17
         Cath. 30       11         19      59       42         18       11
4/21/02  All   18        8         10      74       57         16        9
         Cath. 23        9         14      71       53         18        6      
3/28/02  All   19        5         14      67       49         18       14      
         Cath. 28       12         16      66       45         21        6  
*half sample
Compare to:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Catholic Church is handling 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    op.
6/9/02   All   22        8         15      73       53         20        5
         Cath. 34       16         17      63       41         22        3
4/30/02* All   25        7         17      59       41         18       16
         Cath. 35       13         22      59       42         17        7
*half sample

5. As you may have heard, U.S. Catholic bishops approved a policy on Friday to deal with the issue of sexual abuse of children by priests. Under the new policy, a priest who has sexually abused a child cannot serve as a pastor or chaplain and is barred from all other public church duties. The policy does not require that this priest be automatically removed from the priesthood. Do you support or oppose this policy?

                  Support     Oppose     No opin. 
6/17/02 All          38         60           3
        Cath.        44         53           3

6. What if a priest had committed a single act of child sexual abuse many years ago and had successfully completed a treatment program? In this case, do you think the priest should or should not be prohibited from serving as a pastor or chaplain and barred from all other public church duties?

                  Should be      Should not be      No
                  prohibited       prohibited      opin. 
6/17/02 All           66               29            4
        Cath.         68               30            2

8. Considering everything, do you think the policy adopted by the Catholic bishops is about right, does it go too far, or doesn't it go far enough in dealing with the problem of sexual abuse of children by priests?

                About     Too     Not far      No
                right     far     enough      opin.
6/17/02 All       19        3       75          3
        Cath.     27        3       66          4

9. Do you think that Catholic bishops who did not report allegations of sexual abuse of young people by priests to public authorities and instead relocated these priests to other churches, should resign from their positions or don't you think so?

                    Should     Should not      No
                    resign       resign       opin.
6/17/02   All         85           12           3 
          Cath.       82           14           4 
6/10/02*  All         76           13          10 
          Cath.       69           20          11 
*Quinnipiac. 

10. If these bishops refuse to resign, should church authorities remove them from their positions or not?

                 Yes     No     No opin.
6/17/02 All      89      7         4
        Cath.    86     10         4

11. 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. 
6/17/02 All           9          85             3             4
        Cath.        15          76             5             4
3/28/02 All          16          74             3             7
        Cath.        23          66             4             7

12. 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. 
6/17/02 All          51          39             6             4
        Cath.        64          27             5             3
3/28/02 All          43          46             5             6
        Cath.        60          31             4             4

13. 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.
6/17/02 All     79       39       40       19       14          5         2
        Cath.   76       40       37       22       17          5         2     
3/28/02 All     80       38       42       17       13          3         3
        Cath.   70       36       34       27       19          9         3     

14. Do you think the church can or cannot be trusted to handle this issue properly in the future?

              Can be    Cannot be     No 
              trusted    trusted     Opin.
6/17/02 All     50         43          6 
        Cath.   67         29          4
4/21/02 All     40         52          8 
        Cath.   59         36          5

© Copyright 2002 The Washington Post Company


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