April 28, 2010

Papal Problem

71%

Seven-in-ten Americans say Pope Benedict has done a poor (44%) or only fair (24%) job in addressing the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

Amid new allegations of child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, an April Pew Research poll found that most Americans (71%) said Pope Benedict XVI had done a poor (44%) or only fair (27%) job in handling the scandal. Very few said the pope had done an excellent (3%) or good job (9%). The ratings were far worse than when the public was asked about the pope’s handling of the scandal in April 2008 — shortly after his visit to the U.S. — when 39% said he had done an excellent or good job in dealing with the child sex abuse scandal and 48% said he had done only a fair or poor job. Among those who have heard at least a little about the pope, Catholics express more positive opinions of the pontiff’s handling of the child sex abuse scandal; 32% feel he has done an excellent or good job. Still, a majority (59%) of Catholics say he has done a poor or fair job, up from 40% in April 2008. Catholics who attend church at least once a week are more supportive of the pope’s performance than those who attend church less often. Protestants are more critical of the pope than are Catholics — with little difference between white evangelicals and mainline Protestants — while religiously unaffiliated Americans are the most likely to criticize the pope over the child sex abuse scandal within the Catholic Church. Read More