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Despite controversies, bishops' approval ratings climb sharply

Another fascinating report from The Pew Forum brings good news for the US bishops who have been getting a bad press lately.

  • United States
  • August 13, 2012
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Catholics who are aware of U.S. bishops’ concerns about restrictions on religious liberty generally agree with the bishops’ concerns. Yet the bishops’ protests against government policies they see as restrictive of religious liberty have not drawn much more interest among Catholics than among the general public. And there are no significant differences in the presidential vote preferences between Catholic voters who have heard about the bishops’ protests and those who have not.

Nearly two-thirds of Catholics (64%) have heard at least a little about the bishops’ protests against a number of government policies, including Obama administration policies requiring religious institutions such as universities and hospitals to provide contraceptive services to their employees. But just 22% of Catholics say they have heard a lot about them. Moreover, only about a third of Catholic churchgoers (32%) say their priest has spoken out on this issue at Mass.

By a 56% to 36% margin, Catholics who are aware of the bishops’ protests about what they believe are infringements of religious liberty say they agree with the bishops’ concerns. Among all Americans who are aware of the protests, there is less support for the bishops’ position: 41% agree with the bishops’ concerns, while 47% disagree.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted June 28-July 9, 2012, among 2,973 adults, including 619 Catholics, finds that most Catholics express satisfaction with the leadership of the bishops and other church officials. Large majorities are very or somewhat satisfied with the leadership provided by Catholic nuns and sisters in the U.S. (83%), their own parish priests (82%), their diocesan bishop (74%), the pope (74%) and American bishops in general (70%).

The percentage of Catholics saying they are satisfied with the leadership of American bishops has increased sharply since 2002, during the height of the church’s child sex abuse scandal. In June 2002, 51% of Catholics said they were satisfied with the leadership of American bishops; today 70% do so. More Catholics also are satisfied with the leadership of their own bishop than was the case a decade ago (65% in 2002, 74% today).

Full Story: Catholics Share Bishops’ Concerns about Religious Liberty

Source: The Pew Forum
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