March 26, 2008
Most Americans Have Positive View of Catholic Church, Pope
Washington – Most Americans have a positive view of the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI, ahead of his visit to the United States next month, despite years of negative publicity resulting from the US priest abuse scandal, a survey said Tuesday. “Some of the results may be a bit surprising to those who tend to assume that the church’s critics are representative of American public opinion as a whole,” said Carl Anderson, head of the lay organization Knights of Columbus, which commissioned the poll.
The survey conducted in late February and early March showed 65 per cent of Americans have a positive view of the Catholic Church, while 28 per cent have a negative view. Hispanics, people over 65 and regular church attendees had the most favourable views of the church.
Fifty-eight per cent of respondents had a positive view of Benedict, and 13 per cent had a negative opinion of him, but the vast majority admitted they knew little about him and fully 17 per cent had never heard of him.
Still, there appeared to be large interest in his visit with 42 per cent interested in attending one of his public events in the US and 66 per cent of Catholics saying they would like to do so.
“The bottom line is that despite years of very negative stories about the Catholic Church scandals … affecting views of the pope … the American people have a very sensible and balanced view of Benedict and of the Catholic Church and they are very open of hearing his views on matters and how they might live their faith and put it to practice in their daily lives,” Anderson concluded.