June 12, 2002 - Sex Abuse Priests And Bishops Who Hid Them Should Go, American Catholics Tell Quinnipiac University Poll; Catholics 3-1 Want Equal Say In Dealing With Issue
The Catholic Church should have a 'zero tolerance' policy towards priests who sexually abuse young people, removing them from the priesthood after one proven case, Catholics say 87 - 8 percent in a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Bishops who transferred priests accused of sex abuse, rather than report allegations to civil authorities, should resign, Catholics say 69 - 20 percent.

Lay people should have an equal voice with clergy in deciding how to deal with priests accused of sex abuse, Catholics say 70 - 20 percent.

And lay people should have equal power with clergy in dealing with the administration and finances of the church, Catholics say 65 - 25 percent.

"'One strike and you're out - everywhere' should be the rule for sexual misconduct by clergy, Catholics say. Lay people are not happy with the way the bishops have handled this scandal and they want equal power in dealing with the issue," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "And as long as we're talking about more power, Catholics say, give us an equal voice in handling church administration and finances."

"Most Catholics think 'meaningful improvements' will come out of the bishops meeting this week, but many have lost faith in their church leaders," Carroll said.

By a 63 - 23 percent margin, Catholics say the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting in Dallas this week "will produce meaningful improvements in the way the church handles the issue of sexual abuse of young people by priests."

Only 2 percent of Catholics say the Church has done an "excellent" job dealing with the controversy, while 22 percent say the Church has done a "good" job; 37 percent say "not so good" and 28 percent say "poor."

American Catholics also told the independent Quinnipiac University Poll:
  • 89 - 6 percent that every diocese in the U.S. should be required to report to civil authorities all accusations of sexual abuse by priests against young people;
  • 63 - 25 percent that priests should be allowed to marry;
  • 63 - 26 percent that women should be allowed to become priests;
The news media has given too much coverage to the controversy over alleged sex abuse by priests, 37 percent of Catholics say, while 12 percent say the media has provided too little coverage, and 47 percent say the coverage has been about right.

Eighteen percent of Catholics say the controversy has shaken their faith in Catholicism, while 80 percent say it has not. The controversy has shaken their faith in their own parish priest, 16 percent say, while 79 percent say it has not.

The controversy has shaken their faith in bishops and cardinals, 42 percent say, while 14 percent say it has shaken their faith in the Pope.

"It's not on the Dallas agenda, but Catholics say more than 2 - 1 that priests should be allowed to marry and that women should be allowed to become priests," Carroll said.

From June 4 - 10, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,271 residents nationwide, with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent. The survey includes 321 Catholics nationwide, with a margin of error of +/- 5.5 percent.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys nationwide and in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania as a public service and for research. Complete poll information is 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?

                        Total   Catholics


Very important 59% 60% Fairly important 25 30 Not very important 15 10 DK/NA - -

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

                        Total   Catholics


Every week 28% 30% Almost every week 13 15 Once or twice a month 13 14 A few times a year 27 30 Never 18 10 DK/NA 1 1

3. 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?

                        Total   Catholics


Very closely 27% 28% Fairly closely 44 43 Not too closely 19 23 Not at all closely 9 5 DK/NA 1 1

4. 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?

                        Total   Catholics


Excellent 2% 2% Good 14 22 Not so good 35 37 Poor 37 28 DK/NA 12 10

5. 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?
                        Total   Catholics


Yes/Should resign 76% 69% No/Should NOT resign 13 20 DK/NA 10 11

6. 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?

                        Total   Catholics


Yes, a great deal 31% 24% Yes, some 20 18 Yes, only a little 6 10 No, doesn't contribute 33 42 DK/NA 9 6

7. 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?

                        Total   Catholics


Too much 24% 37% Too little 15 12 About right amount 54 47 DK/NA 7 5

8. What religion were you brought up in?

                        Total


Protestant 51% Catholic 32 Jewish 2 Other 11 NO RELIGION(VOL) 3 DK/NA -

9. What is your religious preference today?

                        Total   


Protestant 50% Catholic 25 Jewish 2 Other 15 NO RELIGION(VOL) 9 DK/NA 1

10. (If "Catholic" Q9) Has the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by priests, shaken your faith in Catholicism, or not?

                        Catholics    04/11/02


Yes 18% 15% No 80 83 DK/NA 2 3

11. (If "Catholic" Q9) Has the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by priests, shaken your faith in your own parish priest, or not?

                        Catholics    04/11/02


Yes 16% 10% No 79 86 DK/NA 5 4

12. (If "Catholic" Q9) Has the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by priests, shaken your faith in Bishops and Cardinals, or not?

                        Catholics    04/11/02


Yes 42% 32% No 55 63 DK/NA 3 4

13. (If "Catholic" Q9) Has the controversy over sexual abuse of young people by priests, shaken your faith in the Pope, or not?

                        Catholics    04/11/02


Yes 14% 13% No 82 83 DK/NA 4 4

14. (If "Catholic" Q9) Do you favor or oppose allowing Catholic priests to get married?
                        Catholics    04/11/02


Favor 63% 67% Oppose 25 22 DK/NA 12 11

15. (If "Catholic" Q9) Do you favor or oppose allowing women to be ordained as Catholic priests?
                        Catholics    04/11/02


Favor 63% 65% Oppose 26 26 DK/NA 10 9



16. (If "Catholic" Q9)As you may know the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual meeting will be held this month in Dallas. Do you think the bishops should or should not do each of the following; (Intro to q16 - q20)

-- Do you think the bishops should or should not -- give lay people an equal voice in deciding how to deal with sexually abusive priests?
                        Catholics


Should 70% Should not 20 DK/NA 10

17. (If "Catholic" Q9, see intro q16) Do you think the bishops should or should not -- give lay people an equal voice in dealing with the administration and finances of the church?

                        Catholics


Should 65% Should not 25 DK/NA 10

18. (If "Catholic" Q9, see intro q16) Do you think the bishops should or should not -- recommend a zero tolerance policy toward priests who sexually abuse young people, which means that any priest who is found to have sexually abused a young person in one case is automatically removed from the priesthood?

                        Catholics


Should 87% Should not 8 DK/NA 5

19. (If "Catholic" Q9, see intro q16) Do you think the bishops should or should not -- recommend that every diocese in the country be required to report to public authorities all accusations of sexual abuse of young people by priests?

                        Catholics


Should 89% Should not 6 DK/NA 4

20. (If "Catholic" Q9) Do you think the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting this month in Dallas will or will not produce meaningful improvements in the way the church handles the issue of sexual abuse of young people by priests?
                        Catholics


Will 63% Will not 23 DK/NA 14