April 11, 2002 - Bishops Who Hid Alleged Sex Abuse Priests Should Quit, Americans Tell Quinnipiac University Poll; Most Massachusetts Catholics Say Law Should Quit
By a large 77 - 12 percent margin, the American public - including 70 percent of American Catholics - say bishops who did not report allegations of sexual abuse of young people by priests to authorities and instead assigned them to other parishes should resign, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

In three states most heavily impacted by the scandal, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut, Quinnipiac University conducted separate parallel surveys.

In Massachusetts, 60 percent of Catholics say Cardinal Bernard Law should resign as archbishop of Boston because of his handling of sexual abuse cases. Cardinal Edward Egan fares better as 22 percent of New York Catholics and 31 percent of Catholics in Connecticut, where he previously was bishop of Bridgeport, say he should resign as New York Archbishop.

American Catholics say 83 - 15 percent that the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by priests has not shaken their Catholic faith. Only 10 percent say the issue has shaken their faith in their own parish priest and 13 percent have lost faith in the Pope.

But 32 percent of U.S. Catholics say their faith in bishops and cardinals has been shaken. In Massachusetts, where Catholics have paid closer attention to this issue, the poll finds feelings about church leaders are more negative than nationwide, and 55 percent of Bay State Catholics have lost faith in church leaders.

"American Catholics have lost a little faith in their parish priests and a lot of faith in their bishops because of the flare-up of sex-abuse charges involving priests," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"One out of seven Catholics in this nationwide poll - which includes separate measures of opinion in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts - say their faith has been shaken and they might leave the church," Carroll said.

"Massachusetts Catholics give Cardinal Law abysmal grades on his handling of sex- abuse charges and most think he should quit. It's not quite that bad for Cardinal Egan, who gets low marks for his handling of sex-abuse charges in the Archdiocese of New York and even lower marks for handling the problem in his previous post in Bridgeport. Calls for his resignation are not as high as Cardinal Law's."

The Church's handling of allegations of sexual abuse by priest is "not so good" or "poor," 67 percent of Americans, including 60 percent of Catholics, say.

Among all Americans, 60 percent say religion is "very important" in their lives, while 26 percent say it is "fairly important" and 14 percent say it is "not very important."

Only 41 percent of Massachusetts residents, 45 percent of Connecticut residents and 52 percent of New York residents say religion is "very important."

By a 67 - 22 percent margin, American Catholics say priests should be allowed to marry; Catholics support 65 - 26 percent allowing women to be ordained priests.

Among all Americans, 16 percent have a very favorable opinion of Pope John Paul II, while 42 percent have a favorable opinion; 10 percent have an unfavorable opinion and 4 percent have a very unfavorable opinion.

Catholics, especially in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut, are the most likely to have left their church, the poll finds:
  • 32 percent of Americans say they were raised Catholic, but only 24 percent say Catholicism is their religious preference today;
  • 51 percent say they were raised as Protestants and 51 percent say they are Protestant today;
  • 2 percent say they were raised Jewish and 2 percent say they are Jewish today;
  • 3 percent say they were raised with no religion and 8 percent say they prefer no religion today.
The Catholic Church's ban on married priests contributes "a great deal" to the problem of sexual abuse, 34 percent of Americans, including 29 percent of Catholics say; 21 percent of Americans, including 19 percent of Catholics, say it contributes "some;" 5 percent of Americans, including 6 percent of Catholics, say it contributes "only a little," and 31 percent of Americans, including 39 percent of Catholics, say celibacy does not contribute to the problem.

"A majority of Americans, including a substantial minority of Catholics, think celibacy contributes to the sexual abuse problem," Carroll said.

"More than two-thirds of Catholics say priests should be allowed to marry. For good measure, almost as many favor ordaining women as priests."

Other findings by the independent Quinnipiac University national poll show:
  • 63 percent of Americans, including 74 percent of Catholics, are members of a church or synagogue;
  • 68 percent of Americans, including 59 percent of Catholics, are very satisfied with their place of worship;
  • 53 percent of Americans, including 46 percent of Catholics, have a very favorable opinion of their priest, minister or rabbi;
  • 93 percent of Americans who are church or synagogue members, including 90 percent of Catholics, trust their priest, minister or rabbi around young people;
From April 1 - 9, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,347 residents nationwide, with a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percent. The survey includes 326 Catholics nationwide, with a margin of error of +/- 5.4 percent. For separate state by state measures, the survey includes 598 New York residents, with 247 Catholics (+/- 6.2 percent), 561 Connecticut residents with 229 Catholics (+/-6.5 percent) and 536 Massachusetts residents, with 252 Catholics (+/-6.2 percent).

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys as a public service and for research.

Complete poll questions and responses are available at www.quinnipiac.edu or call (203) 582-5201
1. How important would you say religion is in your life - very important, fairly important, or not very important?

                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath    


Very important 60% 45% 41% 52% 59% 48% 48% 59% Fairly important 26 32 30 29 34 41 38 31 Not very important 14 22 27 19 7 11 14 8 DK/NA - 1 2 1 - - - 2

2. Do you happen to be a member of a church or synagogue?

                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Yes 63% 63% 60% 56% 74% 83% 79% 75% No 37 37 39 43 26 17 21 25 DK/NA - - - 1 1 - - -

3. (If member Q2) In general, how satisfied are you with the church or synagogue that you belong to? Are you very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied?

                  MEMBERS OF A CHURCH OR SYNAGOGUE Q2..................
                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Very satisfied 68% 57% 56% 61% 59% 50% 49% 60% Smwht satisfied 24 33 34 32 30 39 42 32 Smwht dissatisfied 5 6 6 6 7 7 6 7 Very dissatisfied 2 3 2 - 2 4 2 - DK/NA 1 1 3 1 1 1 1 1

4. Would you say you attend religious services every week, almost every week, once or twice a month, a few times a year, or never?

                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Every week 30% 21% 21% 27% 34% 29% 27% 38% Almost every week 13 10 11 10 13 13 14 10 Once or twice a month 16 14 14 15 20 17 18 11 A few times a year 26 32 29 29 24 33 29 31 Never 15 21 24 19 8 8 12 11 DK/NA 1 - 1 1 - - - -

5. (If member Q2) Is your opinion of your priest, minister, or rabbi very favorable, favorable, unfavorable, or very unfavorable?

                  MEMBERS OF A CHURCH OR SYNAGOGUE Q2..................
                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Very favorable 53% 45% 44% 48% 46% 46% 39% 44% Favorable 39 44 48 46 47 43 51 51 Unfavorable 3 5 4 2 3 6 5 2 Very unfavorable 1 1 - - 2 1 1 - DK/NA 3 5 4 5 3 3 4 3

6. Is your opinion of Pope John Paul the Second very favorable, favorable, unfavorable, or very unfavorable?

                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Very favorable 16% 18% 18% 20% 39% 32% 26% 41% Favorable 42 49 37 44 47 51 54 48 Unfavorable 10 14 18 13 5 8 10 4 Very unfavorable 4 4 7 5 1 2 1 1 DK/NA 27 15 20 18 8 7 10 7

7. How closely have you followed news stories about the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by Catholic priests? Very closely, fairly closely, not too closely, or not at all closely?

                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Very closely 24% 33% 39% 31% 31% 35% 46% 41% Fairly closely 42 47 43 42 39 49 39 40 Not too closely 25 18 14 22 19 15 12 15 Not at all closely 8 3 4 5 9 2 3 5 DK/NA 1 - - - 2 - - -

8. How would you rate the Catholic Church's handling of allegations of sexual abuse of young people by priests? Excellent, good, not so good, or poor?
                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Excellent 3% 3% 2% 2% 4% 6% 3% 3% Good 15 15 12 16 25 22 17 21 Not so good 30 32 29 35 32 37 29 41 Poor 37 41 52 39 28 29 48 28 DK/NA 15 8 5 8 11 5 3 7

9. Do you think that church officials should report to public authorities all allegations of sexual abuse of young people by priests, or only those allegations that they believe to be true?

                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


All allegations 70% 78% 78% 73% 69% 81% 81% 71% Only believed to be true 24 18 20 22 26 17 17 25 DK/NA 6 3 2 5 5 2 3 4

10. 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?

                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Yes/Should resign 77% 71% 75% 64% 70% 67% 70% 58% No/Should NOT resign 12 20 15 27 19 24 21 34 DK/NA 11 9 10 9 11 10 10 9

11. Do you think that church officials should report to public authorities allegations of sexual abuse of young people by priests that took place as long as 10 years ago, or not?

                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Yes 82% 82% 84% 80% 78% 81% 82% 78% No 12 13 11 15 16 16 13 17 DK/NA 6 4 4 5 6 2 5 5

12. 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 young people by priests or not?

IF "YES" -- Would you say it contributes a great deal, some, or only a little?
                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Yes, great deal 34% 34% 36% 31% 29% 26% 28% 24% Yes, some 21 24 22 25 19 25 22 26 Yes, only a little 5 5 6 6 6 6 6 4 No, doesn't contribute 31 34 28 31 39 41 38 42 DK/NA 8 4 7 8 7 2 5 4

13. Overall, would you say the news media has given too much, too little, or about the right amount of coverage to the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by Catholic priests?

                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Too much 19% 25% 32% 22% 30% 33% 40% 33% Too little 24 12 8 20 19 9 8 18 About right amount 50 59 57 55 45 56 51 46 DK/NA 7 3 3 3 6 1 1 2

14. Which do you think has done more to hurt the Church's reputation - the sexual abuse of young people by priests or the way the church has handled the allegations?

                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Abuse by priests 29% 32% 25% 29% 31% 34% 25% 34% Church's handling of allegations 43 44 49 49 43 42 49 49 BOTH(VOL) 21 21 21 19 20 20 21 16 DK/NA 8 4 4 3 6 4 5 1



15. (If member Q2) Do you trust your own priest, minister, or rabbi around young people or not?

                  MEMBERS OF A CHURCH OR SYNAGOGUE Q2..................
                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Yes 93% 90% 91% 88% 90% 88% 91% 85% No 4 6 5 5 5 8 5 4 DK/NA 3 4 4 7 5 4 4 10

16. (If member Q2) If a priest, minister, or rabbi was known to have sexually abused young people, but had undergone rehabilitation, would you be willing to accept them as your priest, minister, or rabbi or not?

                  MEMBERS OF A CHURCH OR SYNAGOGUE Q2..................
                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Yes 23% 23% 20% 29% 29% 25% 22% 31% No 67 65 64 61 63 63 65 59 DK/NA 9 12 15 10 8 12 13 9

17. What religion were you brought up in? Were you brought up Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, or some other religion?

                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot   UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Protestant 51% 32% 24% 31% 7% 3% 2% 2% Catholic 32 56 62 50 91 97 97 97 Jewish 2 5 5 8 - - - - Other 11 5 6 9 1 - 1 - NO RELIGION(VOL) 3 2 2 2 - - - - DK/NA 1 1 1 1 - - - -

18. What is your religious preference today? Do you consider yourself Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, or some other religion?

                  UsTot CtTot MaTot NyTot


Protestant 51% 30% 26% 29% Catholic 24 42 46 39 Jewish 2 4 5 7 Other 14 9 10 15 NO RELIGION(VOL) 8 14 11 9 DK/NA 2 1 1 1

19. (If Catholic Q18) How worried are you that the controversy over sex abuse of young people by priests will hurt the reputation of the Catholic church -- very worried, somewhat worried, or not at all worried?

                  UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Very worried 21% 23% 33% 37% Smwht worried 47 53 38 36 Not al all worried 31 24 26 26 DK/NA 1 - 3 1

20. (If Catholic Q18) How worried are you that the controversy over sex abuse of young people by priests will hurt the reputation of innocent priests -- very worried, somewhat worried, or not at all worried?

                  UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Very worried 38% 41% 49% 47% Smwht worried 45 43 36 34 Not al all worried 16 15 13 16 DK/NA 0 1 1 3

21. (If Catholic Q18) Does the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by priests make you less likely to remain a practicing Catholic or not?
                  UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Yes 13% 14% 7% 15% No 86 85 90 84 DK/NA 2 1 3 1

22. (If Catholic Q18) Does the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by priests make you less likely to go to mass, or not?

                  UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Yes 11% 12% 11% 9% No 87 88 88 91 DK/NA 2 1 1 1

23. (If Catholic Q18) Does the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by priests make you less likely to contribute money to the church, or not?
                  UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Yes 17% 25% 29% 16% No 82 74 69 81 DK/NA 1 1 2 3

24. (If Catholic Q18) Does the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by priests make you less likely to follow the church's teachings on matters of faith and morals, or not?

                  UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Yes 17% 13% 21% 17% No 79 85 77 78 DK/NA 4 3 2 5

25. (If Catholic Q18) Has the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by priests, shaken your faith in Catholicism, or not?

                  UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Yes 15% 15% 13% 13% No 83 83 86 86 DK/NA 3 2 2 2

26. (If Catholic Q18) Has the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by priests, shaken your faith in your own parish priest, or not?

                  UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Yes 10% 6% 7% 6% No 86 90 91 91 DK/NA 4 4 2 4



27. (If Catholic Q18) Has the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by priests, shaken your faith in Bishops and Cardinals, or not?

                  UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Yes 32% 46% 55% 32% No 63 52 43 65 DK/NA 4 3 2 3



28. (If Catholic Q18) Has the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by priests, shaken your faith in the Pope, or not?

                  UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Yes 13% 15% 23% 9% No 83 83 74 90 DK/NA 4 2 4 1

29. (If Catholic Q18) Do you favor or oppose allowing Catholic priests to get married?
                  UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Favor 67% 71% 73% 65% Oppose 22 21 16 23 DK/NA 11 8 10 12

30. (If Catholic Q18) Do you favor or oppose allowing women to be ordained as Catholic priests?

                  UsCath CtCath MaCath NyCath   


Favor 65% 78% 76% 65% Oppose 26 17 17 27 DK/NA 9 5 7 8

(Massachusetts survey only. If Catholic Q18) How would you rate Cardinal Bernard Law's current handling of allegations of sexual abuse of young people by priests? Excellent, good, not so good, or poor?

                  MaCath


Excellent 1% Good 18 Not so good 27 Poor 49 DK/NA 5

(Massachusetts survey only. If Catholic Q18) How would you rate Cardinal Bernard Law's handling in the past of allegations of sexual abuse of young people by priests? Excellent, good, not so good, or poor?

                  MaCath


Excellent -% Good 10 Not so good 26 Poor 56 DK/NA 7

(Massachusetts survey only. If Catholic Q18) Do you think Cardinal Bernard Law should resign as Archbishop of Boston over his handling in the past of allegations of sexual abuse of young people by priests or don't you think so?

                  MaCath


Yes 60% No 27 DK/NA 13

(New York & Connecticut surveys only. If Catholic Q18) How would you rate Cardinal Edward Egan's current handling of allegations of sexual abuse of young people by priests? Excellent, good, not so good, or poor?

                  NyCath CtCath   


Excellent 6% 4% Good 30 25 Not so good 35 37 Poor 11 21 DK/NA 18 13

(New York & Connecticut surveys only. If Catholic Q18) How would you rate Cardinal Edward Egan's handling of allegations of sexual abuse of young people by priests when he was bishop of Bridgeport? Excellent, good, not so good, or poor?

                  NyCath CtCath   


Excellent 2% 1% Good 16 17 Not so good 31 34 Poor 20 28 DK/NA 30 20

(New York & Connecticut surveys only. If Catholic Q18) Do you think Cardinal Edward Egan should resign as Archbishop of New York over his handling of allegations of sexual abuse of young people by priests when he was bishop of Bridgeport or don't you think so?

                  NyCath CtCath   


Yes 22% 31% No 53 47 DK/NA 25 22