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.
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.