July 30, 2013

Before pope’s comments, Latin American Catholics expressed acceptance of homosexuality

Pope Francis waves to the crowd while departing the Metropolitan Cathedral in the Popemobile after arriving in Rio on July 22, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Credit: Getty Images
Pope Francis waves to the crowd while departing the Metropolitan Cathedral in the Popemobile after arriving in Rio on July 22, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Credit: Getty Images

Pope Francis made headlines yesterday in response to a question about the supposed “gay lobby” in the Vatican. The pope reportedly reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s position that while homosexual acts were sinful, orientation was not. But he added, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?”

The remarks came after the pope’s week-long tour of Brazil to celebrate Catholic youth. A Pew Research Center report this spring found that most of the publics surveyed in Latin America say that homosexuality should be accepted by society.

FT_catholics-latin-america-homosexualityIn fact, in four of the seven Latin American countries surveyed (Chile, Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia) Catholics are more likely than non-Catholics to accept homosexuality. For example, while 77% of Catholic Chileans say homosexuality should be accepted by society, only 56% of those who are not Catholic agree. There are also significant gaps in Venezuela and Bolivia. Meanwhile, 65% of Brazilian Catholics are willing to accept homosexuality in their society, while only half of the non-Catholic population in Brazil feels the same.

The survey also found that 64% of Catholics in the United States said that homosexuality should be accepted by society, similar to the 59% of the non-Catholic population who agree. A separate May poll found just over half (54%) of American Catholics say there is at least some conflict between their personal religious beliefs and homosexuality, with 42% saying there is “a lot” of conflict.

Finally, a recent Pew Research survey of the LGBT community found that nearly eight-in-ten LGBT adults (79%) perceive the Catholic Church as unfriendly toward them. Among LGBT Catholics in particular, two-thirds (66%) say the church is unfriendly toward them, while 26% say it is neutral and just 6% see it as friendly.

Note: The headline of this post was originally titled “Pope’s comments on gays have support within his flock.” It has been modified to more accurately describe the data presented within. Thank you to reader Kevin Loker for his thoughtful comments.

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

  1. is a Research Associate at the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

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9 Comments

  1. Picardy1 year ago

    I think if u call urself a christian,follow what the bible say about homosexuality.

    Reply
  2. Don Carter1 year ago

    The question “should society accept homosexuality” always seems odd to me. Isn’t that like asking whether society should “accept” sunshine, rain, the color purple, people of faith or technology? These things exist whether we like them or not. We have no choice but to accept them. We may not like them, welcome them or approve of them, but to not accept them is like not accepting daylight, mountains or the moon.

    Reply
  3. Chris Nunez1 year ago

    All of which is why the Republican, and some bishops appeal to Hispanic Catholics on this issue have fallen on deaf ears. Parents love their children, gay or straight — and not even the angels are able to drive a wedge between the love of parents and grandparents for their children. Hope our bishops get this.

    Reply
  4. Kevin Loker1 year ago

    I’m going to nitpick language because I think it’s important. For instance, is it really a “but he added” moment if the quote is nothing new from Catholic Church teaching? (The quote, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?”)

    From the catechism, 2358: “[Those with same-sex attraction] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” In shorter, simpler words: “who am I to judge.”

    I think the rest of this post is conflating two ideas: support for homosexuality’s acceptance in society (which can mean many things) and not judging someone, no matter who they are– the teaching Pope Francis was affirming.

    How was the exact question phrased in this data? What do respondents define as “accept homosexuality”? Is that the same thing as not discriminating against anyone?

    To say the Pope comments “have support within his flock” is confusing without separating this out. But, of course, all Catholics should not judge anyone (in their book, God does the forgiving and the forgetting), so I guess it’s right in that sense. I’m not sure that was the intent, however.

    What’s missing is the whole element that the Pope’s comments were really *about* the reported “gay lobby,” which this data doesn’t really go in hand with (at least in the way the “support” part is framed). If you look at his whole answer to that question on the plane (not one sentence within it), he made a distinction between two groups: those who have same-sex attraction and those who have same-sex attraction *and* are lobbying. If you look at his full answer, his comments were actually that lobbying is bad, loving every person is good:

    Here’s the comments in full (the transcript), for everyone’s reference: saltandlighttv.org/blog/world-yo…

    Reply
    1. Jacob Poushter1 year ago

      Hi Kevin. To answer your inquiries about phrasing, the exact question was “And which one of these comes closer to your opinion, number 1 or number 2? Number 1 – Homosexuality should be accepted by society OR Number 2 – Homosexuality should not be accepted by society”

      Given that Catholics in some of these Latin American countries are more willing to say homosexuality should be accepted by society, it fits in with the tone Pope Francis laid out about not judging gay people. However, we cannot make further assertions about reaction to the statement itself, nor do we have data on whether any discrimination would be unacceptable to Catholics.

      You can find the complete topline, with question phrasing and results, here: pewglobal.org/files/2013/06/Pew-…

      Jacob

      Reply
      1. Kevin Loker1 year ago

        Thanks for the response, Jacob.

        I still think these are two different things that don’t belong in the same headline (“Pope’s comments on gays have support within his flock”).

        The headline makes a direct connection between the Pope’s comments and your data (“Pope’s comments” “have” “support”). In your answer below, you’re saying the data just fits in because of tone (“[The data] fits in with the tone Pope Francis laid out about not judging gay people”). It’s direct support vs. kind-of-potentially-in-the-ballpark support. The headline says directly related; you’re saying it’s maybe related.

        If you say here that you can’t make assertions about reaction to the statement itself, the headline shouldn’t say that there is support for the comments, right? (Never mind that the line everyone’s quoting actually came from Pope Francis’s comments on the “gay lobby,” which this data doesn’t address.)

        Perhaps most problematic, the headline associates two very different kinds of “acceptance”: one, acceptance as Christ-seeking people; and two, acceptance “in society,” which could range anywhere from anti-bullying (which the Church would support) to pro-legal same-sex marriage (which the Church would not and Pope Francis has already spoken out against).

        Do you see what I mean with how it can be fuzzy as a reader?

        Reply
        1. Kevin Loker1 year ago

          Sorry that got garbled by the comment system– here it is without the random symbols:

          Thanks for the response, Jacob.

          I still think these are two different things that don’t belong in the same headline (“Pope’s comments on gays have support within his flock”).

          The headline makes a direct connection between the Pope’s comments and your data (“Pope’s comments” “have” “support”). In your answer below, you’re saying the data just fits in because of tone (“[The data] fits in with the tone Pope Francis laid out about not judging gay people”). It’s direct support vs. kind-of-potentially-in-the-ballpark support. The headline says directly related; you’re saying it’s maybe related.

          If you say here that you can’t make assertions about reaction to the statement itself, the headline shouldn’t say that there is support for the comments, right? (Never mind that the line everyone’s quoting actually came from Pope Francis’ comments on the “gay lobby,” which this data doesn’t address.)

          Perhaps most problematic, the headline associates two very different kinds of “acceptance” one, acceptance as Christ-seeking people; and two, acceptance “in society,” which could range anywhere from anti-bullying (which the Church would support) to pro-legal same-sex marriage (which the Church would not and Pope Francis has already spoken out against).

          Do you see what I mean with how it can be fuzzy as a reader?

          Reply
          1. Kevin Loker1 year ago

            Bah. I tried to get rid of the symbols but it just put them in there anyway, I guess.

          2. Jacob Poushter1 year ago

            Kevin,

            I understand your concerns and I have modified the title of the post to make the connection between the Pope’s statement and the data more clear. Thank you for your comments.

            Jacob