American Catholics Approve of New Pope

American Catholics Approve of Pope Benedict XVI (WaPo)

An overwhelming majority of American Catholics approves of the selection of Pope Benedict XVI and predicts that he will defend the traditional policies and beliefs of a church that many members say is out of touch with their views, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found that more than eight in 10 Catholics broadly supported the selection of former German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to replace Pope John Paul II.

Nearly as many, 73 percent, said they were “enthusiastic” about the new pontiff, though only one in four said they were strongly enthusiastic about the choice.

On the issues, however, a sizable proportion departs from him. That’s unsurprising, given the pre-conclave polls suggesting as much.

We could be seeing Pope Benedict XVI’s American honeymoon. In other words, while American Catholics may have substantive disagreements with him, they may nonetheless give their approval in the aftermath of the euphoric installment. Perhaps it’ll diminish with time. Alternatively, they may just be unfamiliar with the extent to which their views run contrary to the Holy Father. If so, a few months of major proclamations from the Vatican will correct that information gap. In general, though, we should note that it’s become rather common for American Catholics to have high regard for the pontiff despite rejecting church teachings.

Relatedly, Matt Drudge has the scoop on a special issue of Time Magazine, which details the election of Cardinal Ratzinger:


In the days before the conclave, almost every Cardinal who deigned to speak to the press declared that he was praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance in choosing the successor to John Paul II. The Holy Spirit’s efforts in this particular case began 18 months ago, with a stealth campaign that in the end transfigured an unpalatable candidate into the inevitable Pontiff, turning Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany into Pope Benedict XVI, TIME Rome Bureau Chief Jeff Israely reports in this week’s cover package on Pope Benedict XVI. The momentum, orchestrated by key Curia Cardinals, was such that a last-ditch attempt by liberals to derail it petered out after the first round of voting. “They didn’t realize how strong Ratzinger was,†says an aide to a Cardinal who almost certainly did not vote for the German. “The reformers have been out of touch with this growing tide around Ratzinger,†TIME reports.


Monday’s Conclave — Cardinal Martini’s Countermovement: Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini of Milan had tried to organize a countermovement, and as the electors entered the conclave on Monday afternoon, the consensus was that two camps that would be pitted against each other: the conservatives around Ratzinger and a group behind Martini. But Martini, who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, was hoping only to blunt Ratzinger’s momentum in order to give other less conservative Cardinals a chance to gather support, TIME reports.

First Round of Balloting — Some Votes Left Blank: The biblical scholar managed a good showing in the first round of balloting, but Ratzinger was already solidly ahead. The rest of the votes were spread among several Italians, and according to one voting Cardinal, several ballots were left blank. By that evening, however, it was clear that no one was going to be able to step in for Martini, TIME reports.

Final Tally — Ratzinger with 95 of 115 Votes: By Tuesday, Martini, who does not dislike Ratzinger personally, withdrew his candidacy and might have even thrown his support to him. Liberals who could not stomach that option reportedly swung over to Buenos Aires’ conservative Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio in an anyone-but-Ratzinger move though several sources said the Argentine was himself aligned with the German. But the second balloting saw Ratzinger reach 60 votes. By the third, he was just shy of the 77 required to gain the papacy. By the fourth, he had won 95 out of 115. Liberal stalwarts left Rome grumbling. “A good conclave is one where there are at least two candidates deadlocked,†says a liberal supporter disappointed by the process. “A bad conclave is where there’s one dominant figure. That was the case this time.â€

Coincidentally, this 83% vote mirrors the pope’s approval rating among American Catholics. (And they say the Vatican is undemocratic?!)

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Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.


  1. denise says:

    “In general, though, we should note that it’s become rather common for American Catholics to have high regard for the pontiff despite rejecting church teachings.”

    I think this is right. I think some Catholics (myself included) are mediocre in practice, but want and expect the Church to hold us to a higher standard.

  2. Dear Sir,

    The symbol remains and will remain.
    Good of the past and with arefined
    touch will make it more graceful,the