The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life has a variety of resources on Catholicism and the pope, including public opinion polls, research studies, event transcripts and interviews.
Catholicism Around the World
Latin America’s Catholics in the Spotlight as Pope Francis is Installed
March 18, 2013
Latin America’s share of the global Catholic population has increased over the past century, according to Pew Research Center estimates, but the portion of the region’s population that is Catholic has declined.
During Benedict’s Papacy, Religious Observance Among Catholics in Europe Remained Low but Stable
March 5, 2013
When Benedict XVI was elected pope in 2005, religious observance among Europeans had been in decline for decades, and he set out to stem the tide of secularization. How successful was he? Pew Research polls indicate that during his papacy, religious observance among Catholics in France, Germany, Spain and Italy remained low but fairly stable.
The Global Catholic Population
February 13, 2013
Over the past century, the number of Catholics worldwide has more than tripled. But the world’s overall population also has risen rapidly from 1910 to 2010. As a result, Catholics have made up a remarkably stable share of all people on Earth, though their geographic distribution has changed substantially.
Catholics in Mexico and Cuba
March 1, 2012
Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Latin America March 23-28 for a much-anticipated visit to Mexico and Cuba. An infographic based on data from a 2011 demographic study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life explores information on Catholics in Latin America, with a particular focus on the Catholic population in Mexico and Cuba.
December 19, 2011
A comprehensive demographic study finds that there are 2.18 billion Christians of all ages around the world, representing nearly a third of the estimated 2010 global population of 6.9 billion. Christians are also geographically widespread, and no single region can indisputably claim to be the center of global Christianity.
Global Christianity: Event Transcript
December 19, 2011
In a conference call with journalists, Pew Forum staff members discussed the findings of a new report, Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population.
Catholicism in America
‘Strong’ Catholic Identity at a Four-Decade Low in U.S.
March 13, 2013
The percentage of U.S. Catholics with a strong identification with the Catholic Church was as low in 2012 as it has ever been in General Social Surveys. During the same period, the percentage of Protestants who consider themselves strong members of their faith has been rising.
U.S. Catholics See Sex Abuse as the Church’s Most Important Problem, Charity as Its Most Important Contribution
March 6, 2013
U.S. Catholics see the scandal over sex abuse by clergy as the most important problem facing the church today and charitable efforts to aid the poor, feed the hungry and heal the sick as the church’s most important contribution to society today.
U.S. Catholics: Key Data from Pew Research
February 25, 2013
How do U.S. Catholics view the church, and what do they want from the next pope? Here are some of the Pew Research Center’s key findings about the U.S. Catholic population on these and other questions.
U.S. Catholics Divided On Church’s Direction Under New Pope
February 21, 2013
As the pontificate of Benedict XVI winds down, three-quarters of American Catholics express a favorable view of the pontiff. Meanwhile, most U.S. Catholics say it would be good if the next pope allows priests to marry. And fully six-in-ten say it would be good if the next pope hails from a developing region like South America, Asia or Africa.
Latinos, Religion and Campaign 2012: Catholics Favor Obama, Evangelicals Divided
October 18, 2012
A recent survey finds Latino Catholic voters strongly favor Obama, while Latino evangelical Protestants are more closely divided in their support for Obama and Romney. The survey also finds rising support for same-sex marriage among Latinos.
The Catholic “Swing” Vote
October 11, 2012
Catholics are often identified as a major “swing” voting group in American politics. A new analysis shows that the only group of Catholics that has been divided in recent elections is white Catholics who identify as political moderates.
Catholics Share Bishops’ Concerns about Religious Liberty
August 1, 2012
A new survey report finds that Catholics who are aware of U.S. bishops’ concerns about restrictions on religious liberty generally agree with the bishops’ concerns. Yet there are no significant differences in the presidential vote preferences between Catholic voters who have heard about the bishops’ protests and those who have not.
Changing Attitudes on Gay Marriage
July 31, 2012
A series of graphics shows how public opinion toward same-sex marriage has changed in Pew Research Center polls since 2001.
Religion in the News: 2011
February 23, 2012
The biggest religion stories of 2011 involved tensions over Islam and questions about faith in presidential politics, especially Mormonism, according to an annual review of religion in the news.
Religion in the News: 2010
February 24, 2011
Events and controversies related to Islam dominated U.S. press coverage of religion in 2010, bumping the Catholic Church from the top spot, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
Hispanic Protestants Closely Divided Heading Into 2010 Elections; Hispanic Catholics Favor Democrats
October 7, 2010
A new survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, shows that Hispanic registered voters currently support Democratic candidates by a three-to-one margin in the upcoming midterm elections (65% vs. 22%). The survey data show, however, that there is a sharp divide between Hispanics who identify their religion as Catholic and those who identify as Protestant.
Religious Groups’ Official Positions on Same-Sex Marriage
July 27, 2010
In recent years, same-sex marriage has been a contentious subject within many religious groups in the U.S. Here is an overview of where 16 religious groups stand on this issue.
Catholic Opinion on Notre Dame Controversy Differs by Church Attendance
May 14, 2009
According to an April 2009 poll, about half of American Catholics have heard at least a little about the controversy over the University of Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Barack Obama to speak at the university’s May 17 commencement and receive an honorary degree. A similar number of Catholics say that the university was right to invite Obama.
Obama, Catholics and the Notre Dame Commencement
April 30, 2009
Most Catholics who have heard about the issue support Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Obama to speak at its May 17 commencement even though he supports abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research. But a poll finds a deep division on this issue between the most-observant Catholics and those who are less observant.
Faith in Flux: Changes in Religious Affiliation in the U.S.
April 27, 2009
Americans change religious affiliation early and often. In total, about half of American adults have changed religious affiliation at least once during their lives, and Catholicism has suffered the greatest net loss in the process of religious change.
Interactive: Reasons for Joining, Reasons for Leaving
April 27, 2009
About half of American adults have changed religious affiliation at least once in their lives. This interactive explores the reasons different groups, including Catholics, cite for leaving or joining their religion.
The Political Obligations of Catholics: A Conversation With the Most Rev. Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Denver
March 17, 2009
What should we expect from Catholic leaders with respect to the policy decisions of President Obama and those of future administrations? To discuss this issue and others, the Pew Forum invited Archbishop Chaput, who was appointed by Pope John Paul II and is the first Native American archbishop to be ordained in the U.S.
Will Obama Win the White Catholic Vote?
Oct. 30, 2008
Surveys by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press show that white, non-Hispanic Catholic support for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama has grown, taking him from a 13-percentage-point deficit in late September to an 8-point lead in late October.
Courting Catholics in 2008
April 3, 2008
Senior Fellow John Green discusses Catholic voting trends in past elections, challenges facing the campaigns as they reach out to Catholics and how the church’s growing Hispanic population may impact future elections.
America’s Catholics Occupy a Unique Place in the World of Religion
April 1, 2008
This Pew Global Attitudes Project study finds that U.S. Catholics occupy something of a middle ground between their more religious fellow Catholics in the developing world, and the less devout of Europe.
A Portrait of American Catholics
March 27, 2008
The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey finds that American Catholics are quite diverse in their demographic profile, in their religious practices and levels of commitment, as well as in their social and political views.
The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey
Feb. 25, 2008
The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey includes online tools allowing you to view the geographic distribution of Catholics in America, examine demographic characteristics of Catholics and compare the demographic characteristics of Catholics with those of other religious traditions.
‘Heroic Conservatism:’ A Conversation with Michael Gerson
Nov. 13, 2007
Michael Gerson spoke about “heroic conservatism,” which he defined as a “conservatism of the common good, influenced by Catholic social thought.”
Faith and the Public Dialogue: A Conversation with John Kerry
Nov. 1, 2007
The Pew Forum invited Mass. Sen. John Kerry to discuss the propriety of public inquiry into politicians’ religious beliefs and how those beliefs influence candidates’ views on the issues of the day.
Changing Faiths: Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion
April 25, 2007
A joint survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Hispanic Center found that Hispanics are transforming the nation’s religious landscape, especially the Catholic Church.
Presidential Preferences of White Non-Hispanic Catholics
April 3, 2007
A Pew Forum analysis of a March 2007 Pew Research Center survey provided an early reading of a group that has been a key swing vote in recent presidential elections.
Defining Ourselves as Catholic Democrats
June 8, 2006
Conn. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro discussed how religion has influenced her career and reflects on the issues of the day from a Catholic perspective.
Faith, Politics & Progressives: A Conversation with John Podesta
April 26, 2005
John Podesta, president and chief executive officer of the Center for American Progress, spoke about faith and progressive politics.
Conclave Elects Pope Francis
March 13, 2013
Pope Francis was elected on March 13 as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio hails from Argentina and becomes the first Latin American pontiff. According to Pew Research Center data on the distribution of the world’s Catholic population, the largest share of the Catholic population (39%) lives in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Pope Benedict XVI
Pew Research Center
Pope Benedict Over the Years: News Coverage by the Numbers
February 12, 2013
Perhaps the most visible religious figure in the world, Pope Benedict XVI has attracted a significant share of news coverage over the years. Since the Pew Research Center began tracking the U.S. news media in 2007, the pope has been by far the central figure in mainstream religion coverage.
Catholics’ Views of Catholic Leaders
November 12, 2012
According to a summer 2012 Pew Research Center survey, most Catholics express satisfaction with the leadership of the bishops and other church officials. Large majorities are very or somewhat satisfied with the leadership provided by Catholic nuns and sisters in the U.S. (83%), their own parish priests (82%), their diocesan bishop (74%), the pope (74%) and American bishops in general (70%).
The Pope Meets the Press: Media Coverage of the Clergy Abuse Scandal
June 11, 2010
Newspaper coverage of the Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal grew more intense this spring than at any time since 2002, and European newspapers devoted even more ink to the story than American papers did, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.
Broad Criticism of Pope Benedict’s Handling of Sex Abuse Scandal
April 7, 2010
Amid new revelations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI’s job ratings for handling the scandal have plummeted, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
Religion in the News: 2009
March 25, 2010
Pope Benedict XVI, though he made no visits to the United States last year, was the subject of two of the top 10 religion stories, while the Obama administration accounted for three of the top 10 religion-focused storylines during the year.
Religion in the News: 2008
March 16, 2009
The biggest single religion story of 2008 was compressed into about a week’s worth of coverage. Attention to Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the U.S. in April 2008 eclipsed even faith-related controversies surrounding the 2008 presidential election campaign.
Pope Benedict’s Image Improves Following U.S. Visit
May 6, 2008
Following his first visit to the United States as spiritual leader of the world’s Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI was viewed more favorably by Americans than he was a few weeks before his April 2008 trip.
During U.S. Papal Visit, Media Focused on the Shepherd and His Flock
May 6, 2008
Before his April 2008 visit, the news media portrayed Pope Benedict XVI as a largely unknown religious figure about to introduce himself to American Catholics, but by the time he left, the relationship between the relatively new pope and the hurting U.S. church was the primary storyline in the mainstream news media’s coverage of the pontiff’s visit.
Q&APope Benedict’s Papacy Still Coming Into Focus
April 4, 2008
Pew Forum Director Luis Lugo and Associate Director Mark O’Keefe discuss the findings of a recent Pew Forum survey on the favorability of Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict Still Unknown to Many Americans
April 3, 2008
While more than half (52%) of all Americans view Pope Benedict XVI favorably, three-in-ten still say that they do not know enough about the pope to offer an opinion.
The Pope Comes to America
April 1, 2008
John Allen and George Weigel discuss the issues surrounding Pope Benedict XVI’s first trip to the United States.
Pope Benedict XVI on the Church’s Role in Public Life
Nov. 14, 2007
Contains links to the pope’s homilies and other writings on social issues.
U.S. Public Opinion about Pope Benedict XVI
Sept. 25, 2007
A September survey found that the pontiff is viewed favorably by nearly three-quarters (73%) of those familiar enough to offer an opinion.
Pope Visits ‘Pentecostalized’ Brazil
May 9, 2007
In May 2007, when the pope visited the world’s most Catholic country, he also encountered a nation fast becoming one of the world’s most pentecostal countries.
The Vatican and Islam
Oct. 4, 2006
Catholic theologian George Weigel discussed the impact of controversial comments the pope made about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad last year in advance of a papal trip to Turkey.
Vatican Foreign Policy in the New Pontificate
June 10, 2005
Dr. J. Peter Pham, a former Vatican diplomat and a frequent commentator on Vatican history and policy, discussed possible trends in Vatican foreign policy under Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict XVI and World Affairs
April 29, 2005
A 2005 Pew Forum panel discussed what the selection of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as pope might mean for the future role of the Roman Catholic Church in world affairs.
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