Poll: U.S. Catholics Want to Be Episcopalians

A Gallup poll released Sunday evening reveals that a majority of American Catholics want the next pope to stop being so Catholic.

Poll: U.S. Catholics would support changes (CNN)

A majority of U.S. Catholics surveyed want the next pope to have a theological outlook similar to that of Pope John Paul II, but they would also like to see changes on issues such as birth control, stem cell research and allowing priests to marry, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Sunday.

[…]

Seventy-eight percent said the next pope should allow Catholics to use birth control, 63 percent said he should let priests marry and 59 percent said the next pope should have a less-strict policy on stem cell research.

Fifty-five percent said the next pope should allow women to become priests, while 44 percent said he should not. The question’s margin of error means the difference is too close to draw strong conclusions.

A majority of U.S. Catholics polled support John Paul’s unwavering stance against abortion rights. Asked whether the next pope should have a less strict policy, 59 percent said no, while 37 percent answered yes.

Respondents were split on the question of divorce. Asked whether the next pontiff, unlike John Paul, should allow Catholics to divorce and remarry, 49 percent said yes, while 48 percent said no.

These people are obviously “Catholics” merely in an ethnic-social sense rather than a religious one. While I think all these reforms would likely enhance the attractiveness of the church in the West, these traditions are incredibly longstanding and have deep theological significance. If one wants to belong to a hierarchical church that performs most of the same comforting rituals but without all the dogmatic rigor, why not simply become an Episcopalian and be done with it?

Update (April 5): An AP poll has similar findings.

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘These people are obviously “Catholics” merely in an ethnic-social sense rather than a religious one. ‘

    The proper term is cafeteria Catholics.

  2. Maggie says:

    From: telegraph.co.uk/main

    Jesus might have been homosexual, says the first openly gay bishop
    By Elizabeth Day
    (Filed: 03/04/2005)

    “The first openly gay Anglican bishop has sparked outrage for suggesting that Jesus might have been homosexual.

    The Rt Rev Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church of the United States, said that Jesus was an unmarried, ‘non-traditional man’ who did not uphold family values, ‘travelled with a bunch of men’ and enjoyed an especially close relationship with one of his disciples.”

    I DON’T THINK CATHOLICS WANT TO BECOME EPISCOPALIANS.

  3. Mark says:

    Maggie:

    First Abe Lincoln, now Jesus. Andrew Sullivan is going to have a field day.

  4. Brian J. says:

    Only Catholics go to Heaven?

  5. Just Me says:

    “If one wants to belong to a hierarchical church that performs most of the same comforting rituals but without all the dogmatic rigor, why not simply become an Episcopalian and be done with it? ”

    I agree.

  6. bryan says:

    Because they’d have to give up their allegiance to Notre Dame football.

  7. carla says:

    Or maybe they want their church to grow up and address it’s many problems..specifically with the culture of celibacy being part of the sexual molestation problems.

    Asking people to leave their church is akin to telling them to leave their country. While it makes for cute rhetorical pixels…it’s hardly fair and it brushes up against dishonest.

  8. whatever says:

    > Asking people to leave their church is akin
    > to telling them to leave their country

    Not EXACTLY. Leaving your church doesn’t require relocation. In most cities in the U.S. it means attending services down the street.

    The debate comes down to changing an organization so that it fits your views or joining another organization that already agrees with your views. The closest simularity would be a club since religous observation and practice is voluntary – in the West anyway.

    Some other blogger (Instapundit?) already adressed today that church doctrine is not democratic, is not a popularity contest, and that U.S. Catholics make up a very small minority of the world’s Catholics. I think if you don’t like any particular church that you can find one in the U.S. that would fit any view you might have.

  9. McGehee says:

    Or maybe they want their church to grow up and address it’s many problems.

    Um, the Catholic Church is at least 1,990 years older than you are.

  10. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘maybe they want their church to grow up and address it’s many problems’

    Last I heard the Catholic church wasn’t forcing anyone to attend mass. The faithful are free to come and the disgruntled are free to go.

  11. Just Me says:

    Also, there are ways to address problems in the church (like the whole child molestation thing) without changing the things that make the Catholic church the Catholic church.

    Also, I don’t know how much you can argue that the issue of celibacy led to child molestation charges, I remember that percentage wise there was/is no higher a percentage of child molesting priests in the Catholic church than in the general population.

    The problem with the molestation issues, wasn’t celibacy, but the fact that the church didn’t handle the child molesters well, and tried to protect the church at the expense of the victims. It is pretty easy to set up a policy to deal with those, without totally changing who is or isn’t ordained into the priesthood.

  12. Dmark says:

    Well, with the new Pope who seems to now have been pre selected! I hope I am wrong but from what I’ve heard so far about the new Popes views, he is going to set the Catholic Religion back, several hundred years! He is a strict Old Fashioned Priest with views of the good “Old Boys” days, when the priest ruled by fear and intimidation. They elevate themselves so that they can control the weak! I believe woman have the most to loose. I hope I am wrong and that the new Pope realizes his Job really is to Unite All peoples with moderation and caring for all Religions. I was told that Ratzinger said Catholisim is the only True religion–if this is true–I hope he changes his opinions. If he pushes things back, then lets see the number of Catholics that exist when his reign ends, I predict there will be less! Maybe I will become Episcopalian and I’m a conservative Republican, but with an open mind and value common sence above all!