Poll: U.S. Catholics Don't Share a Lot of Vatican's Views
Byline: Michelle Boorstein and Peyton M. Craighill The Washington Post
Most Catholics worldwide disagree with church teachings on divorce, abortion and contraception and are split on whether women and married men should become priests, according to a large new poll released Sunday and commissioned by the U.S. Spanish-language network Univision. On the topic of gay marriage, two-thirds of Catholics polled agree with church leaders.
Overall, however, the poll of more than 12,000 Catholics in 12 countries reveals a church dramatically divided between the developing world in Africa and Asia that hews closely to doctrine on these issues and Western countries in Europe, North America and parts of Latin America that strongly support practices the church teaches are immoral.
The widespread disagreement with Catholic doctrine on abortion and contraception and the hemispheric chasm lay bare the challenge for Pope Francis' year-old papacy and the unity it has engendered.
The poll, done by Bendixen & Amandi International for Univision, did not include Catholics everywhere. It focused on 12 countries with some of the world's largest Catholic populations. The countries are home to more than six of 10 Catholics.
"This is a balancing act. They have to hold together two increasingly divergent constituencies. The church has lost its ability to dictate what people do," said Ronald Inglehart, founding president of the World Values Survey, a major ongoing global research project. "Right now the less developed world is staying true to the old world values, but it's gradually eroding even there. [Pope Francis] doesn't want to lose the legitimacy of the more educated people."
After his election to the papacy 11 months ago, Francis seemed to immediately grasp the significance of the divisions among the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. …