Sunday, April 03, 2005


I'm not a Catholic, and to a great degree it's none of my business what the Catholic Church does. However, as with any large religion its leaders have a political impact which I do care about, and obviously the Pope in particular has a degree of power which no other religious leader has, at least in the Western world.

Along these lines, I think it would be quite a good thing if our media, particularly the Russert-Matthews-Noonan axis-of-Catholictory which is quite prominent, took note of these poll numbers on American Catholic opinion (Josh doesn't provide a link to this, so I'll just link him):

A majority of U.S. Catholics surveyed want the next pope to have a theological outlook similar to that of Pope John Paul II, but they would also like to see changes on issues such as birth control, stem cell research and allowing priests to marry, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Sunday.
As the article notes further down into the piece ...

Seventy-eight percent said the next pope should allow Catholics to use birth control, 63 percent said he should let priests marry and 59 percent said the next pope should have a less-strict policy on stem cell research.

These numbers are quite stunning. I would've expected a majority on the birth control numbers, slightly less than 50% on the stem cell question, and maybe 40% max on the female priest question. While I have no deep understanding of the Catholic church or its members, I would assert that the public media face of Catholicism would've led me to expect much lower percentages on these questions than I thought, and thereforely obviously much lower answers than the polls provide.

We'll get a new Pope soon, and who knows what his views will be. But, it's clear to me that the public face of Catholicism is way way way out of step with the views of American catholics.