US confidence in Pope down by two-to-one

US Catholics’ confidence in Pope Francis’s ability to handle the sex abuse crisis besetting the Church is down by a two-to-one margin, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The survey results released this week show:

  • 30% of American Catholic adults say Francis is doing an “excellent” or a “good” job addressing the issue
  • 60% say he is doing an “only fair” or “poor” job handling the sex abuse scandal
  • 36% say his efforts on this front have been poor. This is nearly double the share who said he was doing a poor job at the beginning of this year, and triple the share who said this in 2015.

Although US Catholics’ confidence has dropped since January’s poll, the sex abuse scandal has made the headlines several times in recent months:

  • In June, there were widespread allegations against Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, DC, who resigned from the College of Cardinals.
  • In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury report said over 300 priests have been accused of sexually abusing minors over the past 70 years
  • In late August Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò released a letter alleging Francis and other senior church officials knew about some of the abuses and did nothing. Viganò has suggested Francis should resign because of the scandals.
  • Last week, Viganò again wrote to Pope Francis demanding answers in relation to his initial letter.

Although Francis is still rated more positively than negatively for his leadership in spreading the Catholic faith and standing up for traditional moral values, according to the Pew Research results the share of Catholics who say he is doing an excellent or a good job in this work has declined this year.


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