Give us a younger pope with new ideas say US Catholics

A majority of Catholics in the US want a pope who is younger and with some new ideas. Most saying they want the next pope to make the church’s teachings more liberal, according to the latest NYTimes/CBS News Poll.

70% say Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican have done a poor job of handling sexual abuse, a significant rise from three years ago.

US Catholics say that their church and bishops are out of touch, and that the next pope should lead the church in a more modern direction on issues like birth control and ordaining women and married men as priests, according to the Poll.

A strong majority said the issue had led them to question the Vatican’s authority. The sexual abuse of children by priests is the largest problem facing the church, Catholics in the poll said.

Three-fourths of those polled said they thought it was a good idea for Benedict to resign.

Most wanted the next pope to be “someone younger, with new ideas.” A majority said they wanted the next pope to make the church’s teachings more liberal.

With cardinals now in Rome preparing to elect Benedict’s successor, the poll indicated that the church’s hierarchy had lost the confidence and allegiance of many U.S. Catholics, an intensification of a long-term trend.

They like their priests and nuns, but many feel that the bishops and cardinals do not understand their lives.

“I don’t think they are in the trenches with people,” said Therese Spender, 51, a homemaker in Fort Wayne, Ind., who said she attended Mass once a week and agreed to answer further questions after the poll. “They go to a lot of meetings, but they are not out in the street.”

Even Catholics who frequently attend Mass said they were not following the bishops’ lead on issues that the church had recently invested much energy, money and credibility in fighting — artificial birth control and same-sex marriage. Continue reading

Image: SF Gate

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