Thursday, December 12, 2002

Poll results indicate American Catholics still value bishops' authority

The findings released Wednesday are the results of the fourth LeMoyne/Zogby poll since November 2001. The joint venture is intended to track American Catholics' attitudes about church doctrine and public policy. The survey found, on average, 66 percent of American Catholics consider war with Iraq justified under certain circumstances. After being told the bishops oppose a potential war, 57 percent support the bishops' position. The survey also found American Catholics are significantly more knowledgeable about the priest sex-abuse scandal than about the bishops' statement against pre-emptive strikes in Iraq. Nearly all Catholics surveyed, 96 percent, are aware of the sex abuse scandal, while 28 percent are aware of the American bishops' position.

The survey was conducted in mid-November, two months after Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the United States Catholic Conference, sent President Bush a letter outlining opposition to possible war. The letter outlined just-war principles, the conditions under which war is considered acceptable. The concept of a just war is rooted in the traditions of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.

...The survey also found American Catholics' approval for the job of the bishops remained at 69 percent, the level recorded in March, at the height of the sex-abuse scandal. A poll in fall 2001 put the bishops' approval rate at 84 percent.

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