U.S. Catholics Divided on Church’s Direction Under New Pope

Pew Research Center, February 21, 2013

As the pontificate of Benedict XVI winds down, many American Catholics express a desire for change. For example, most U.S. Catholics say it would be good if the next pope allows priests to marry. And fully six-in-ten Catholics say it would be good if the next pope hails from a developing region like South America, Asia or Africa.

At the same time, many Catholics also express appreciation for the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. While about half of U.S. Catholics (46%) say the next pope should “move the church in new directions,” the other half (51%) say the new pope should “maintain the traditional positions of the church.” And among Catholics who say they attend Mass at least once a week, nearly two-thirds (63%) want the next pope to maintain the church’s traditional positions.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Feb. 13-18 among 1,504 adults (including 304 Catholics) also finds that nine-in-ten U.S. Catholics have heard a lot (60%) or at least a little (30%) about Benedict’s resignation. {snip}


A majority of Catholics (60%) say it would be a good thing if the next pope is from a developing region of the world, like South America, Asia or Africa. Only 14% say this would be a bad thing, while one-in-five say it would not matter either way (20%).




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  • What they tell pollsters is one thing…what they really want in private is another.

  • The__Bobster

    Today’s American Catholics appear to be a sorry lot, with no core convictions at all. Maybe it’s a good thing that the predatory homosexual pedophile priests are bankrupting the church.

    • TeutonicKnight67

      Ah yes, all the lovely fruits of Vatican II.

  • Tom Iron

    I think they’ll elect a black pope. But this has been coming for awhile. The Catholic Church was highjacked years ago by a group of the worst type of men, inexperienced. Administrators, Academians, thinkers and the like. People who never, ever put their hand to any type of work in their lives and actually look down on work. How can a church, started by a man who must’ve been trained as a carpenter and his followers, all working men be kept going by people dedicated to never do manual labor of any type?

  • Hmph, why don’t they get a muslim pope? They really do need to go out of their way and be more inclusive. A turbin wearing pope with a long beard, that’s what we need.
    That, and some crescent moon shaped communion wafers spiced with curry.
    I had better quit while I’m ahead. I’m about to kick in my TV screen.

    • [Guest]

      The notion of a Muhammadan pope might not be so farfetched. The following is quoted from the catechism of the Roman Catholic Church.

      The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

      That’s Catholicism; it’s not Christianity.

      • Just ask a Muslim if he would bow down to the God of Israel.

      • Nate Miller

        Excuse me! Catholicism IS Christianity. It is the first and original Christian church founded by Jesus Christ himself. The Protestants and their nutty evangelicals/ pentecostals/ baptists/ etc can never make the same claim. So please stop with these anti Catholic tirades and I will stop mine!

  • JohnEngelman

    most U.S. Catholics say it would be good if the next pope allows priests to marry.

    – Pew Research Center, February 21, 2013

    The Roman Catholic priestly pedophile is an indirect result of the insistence on priestly celibacy. This insistence creates a shortage of priests. This in turn makes clerical authorities reluctant to defrock priests they have problems with. It is difficult to replace them.

    • David Ashton

      The shortage of priests is caused primarily by the loss of faith generally in RC families. There is a connection between much pedophilia and the recent tolerance of homosexuality in the seminaries. It is also true that some Catholic males with homosexual inclinations are content to avoid marriage. There is a case for two sets of priest, those able to marry, and those who have a special celibate vocation like monks; it is a discipline, not a doctrine. However, the Church still tries to hold out against the sexual mania of our modern society by an example that is not always feasible in the modern climate.
      No doubt you would hope they married Chinese women.

      • Alex

        Mr. Ashton, I truly enjoy reading your posts. You always write very enlightening comments. Mr. Kaladian also had some interesting input on this topic and noted that the pedophile priests are almost always going after teenage boys and that this could have been avoided by weeding certain types out of the seminaries and actually practicing some valuable discrimination.

        I have visited a few SSPX parishes and those that offer the Latin Mass and it seems that they are able to avoid a lot of the problems that have become so prevalent elsewhere in the Church community (i.e. few children, watered-down sermons etc.)

        • TeutonicKnight67

          Alex, I agree. Mr. Ashton is spot on. Men having sexual relations with post-pubescent teenage boys are homosexuals, not pedophiles. I am not at all shocked by your SSPX observation. What the Church needs is more Tradition and less liberalism.

        • Tom Iron

          Very well said sir. I like the SSPX. I heard about them a few years ago when they got into an argument about a female referee at one of their school basketball games (St Mary’s Academy in Kansas). I’ve been contributing to them ever since.
          Although I support my wife’s involvement in our local parish (I put my hands on whatever the women’s groups need done), I’m totally disgusted just looking at the two lazy priests who are in this parish.

    • MikeofAges

      Another issue at work here. Research has shown that the incidence of pedophilia is about the same in the Catholic church as it is in other churches or in secular groups which allow adults access to children, about one out of every 50 men. What makes the Catholic church different is its corporate structure of regional dioceses and the amount of fixed property these owns. That, along with the fact that it easily can be cast as morally villainous, makes it a juicy target for the trial lawyers. How could you sue the little white church (the building, that is to say) down on the corner over what happened there 50 years ago? Jeez louise, it might not even be the same church as a legal entity anymore. And, by the way, what goes on in leftist groups and organization and at the youth events they sponsor? Get serious.

      A good point about the actual role of celibacy though. Celibacy does not cause pedophilia. But I am sure you are right that it did make the church reluctant to dismiss offending priests.

  • JackKrak

    I don’t want to see a black or brown Pope but it’s hard to sympathize with Europeans hell-bent on cultural suicide who have traded church and family for La Dolce Vita and the EU nanny state. Forty percent of German women childless. Average age of first becoming a parent in the 30’s. Just a couple of Euro states with anything close to replacement birthrates, let alone growth rates. The churches that haven’t been converted into loft apartments or office space are now just part of Euro Land for North American and Asian tourists to take pictures of.

    A great civilization that forged the modern world and sent its missionaries to every corner of the globe is now too tired to carry its own flag anymore.

    • Pat

      If you want a preview take a look at York Minster. A stunning cathedral built in the 1200s. It is truly impressive. The current Archbishop is from Uganda.

      • Tired

        I’ve seen that. It is an utter joke, he looks ridiculous in European garb.

  • blitzen51

    Priests cannot marry for economic reasons. Parishes are closing all over the country because there arent enough church goers to keep them open. So if they cannot afford to keep the existing schools and churches open how could the church afford to support a priest , his wife and family??

    • TeutonicKnight67

      Sad but true. Also, Roman Catholic clergy were allowed to be married (except for Bishops) for over 1000 years. Celibacy was introduced to prevent a hereditary Papacy

    • SSD

      Actually the parishes are closing because there is a massive priest shortage, not a laity shortage.

      • GM (Australia)

        Yes, this is a wonderful excuse to import 3rd world clergy. (And many while parishioners will simply vote with their feet.)

  • The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Feb. 13-18 among 1,504 adults (including 304 Catholics) also finds that nine-in-ten U.S. Catholics have heard a lot (60%) or at least a little (30%) about Benedict’s resignation.

    Why are non-Catholics being polled about Church direction?

    A majority of Catholics (60%) say it would be a good thing if the next pope is from a developing region of the world, like South America, Asia or Africa. Only 14% say this would be a bad thing, while one-in-five say it would not matter either way (20%).

    And what percent of the US Catholics polled’s native language is not English?

    • TeutonicKnight67

      I would add also that there is no such thing as a non-practicing Catholic. If you don’t practice, then you don’t count. And why is anyone polling people who don’t practice their faith anyway?

  • dd121

    I’m not Catholic but if they elect a black Pope I’m going to join so I can quit in protest.

  • bigone4u

    A black or brown Pope would exercise his moral authority (not that he would have any with me) to promote a massive immigration in the many hundreds of millions from Africa to the US and Europe. “Justice and God demand it,” he would say. And the shepherd would lead his flock of sheep straight over the cliff’s edge.

    • JoeG

      Pope John Paul II was a big supporter of open borders for the US. Although his country, Vatican City, has a big wall around it with armed guards. Anyone born in Vatican City becomes a citizen of Italy, even if the parents are Vatican citizens. Only a few are selected to become Vatican citizens.

  • MikeofAges

    I’ll tell you one thing. If the Catholic Church elects a Third World pope, the idiot brigade will be shocked to find out that the new pope is very, very Catholic and viscerally opposed to their pet causes of abortion on demand, gay marriage and popular front-infiltrated religion.. Western democracies may elect trendy mavericks who have no real loyalty to their own countries to head their governments. But the Catholic Church will not follow suit.

    • Bill

      There are many Catholics, and many in the priesthood who ARE liberals. And there is a movement in the church even in the Vatican to become more “inclusive”. More liberal. Less rigid. Swelling the offering plate seems to be the main focus of the catholic church. Well, that, and providing sanctuary to pedophiles.

      • MikeofAges

        Well, they’re everywhere, liberals and liberationists. So are mice, pigeons and cockroaches. Some things just come with the territory.

  • KingKenton

    Well, if it makes anyone feel any better, Cardinal Dolan is apparently a contender.


    (replace DOT with ‘.’)

  • JoeG

    Pope John Paul II set the modern day precedent for electing non-Italians. English born Pope Adrian IV (1154 to 1159) and Polish born Pope John Paul II (1978 to 2005) are the only non-Italian Popes.

  • Sherman_McCoy

    I think that I might seek out an ethnic branch of the Orthodox Church if I were set upon remaining in a Catholic-like organization. Lord knows, the Orthodox Church I attended in the US for many years got plenty of disaffected Episcopalians.

    I am not sure where the Orthodox Church comes down on this, but the OCA (Orthodox Church of America) seems disturbingly inclusive of all ethnicities, though its main roots are in Russian Orthodoxy. That said, it would appear to me that the other branches insist upon having leaders that belong to their respective ethnic groups, i.e., Russians have a Russian patriarch, the Greeks, Greek, the Ethiopians Ethiopian, etc.

    Unfortunately, we are going to see more and more of this so long as “racism” is seen as the greatest sin one can commit. I think in was predicted in the Bible that the Last Days could be identified by people calling good evil, and evil good.

    I can think of few things that are better than a healthy regard and love for one’s own, though the rest of the world calls it evil.

    • convairXF92

      The OCA and the Antiochian Orthodox both have absorbed various leftist views from other branches of Christianity. They are trying to be modern and Western. If interested in Orthodoxy, check out the Greeks–you’ll at least be able to figure out critical parts of the liturgy as so many Greek words have been adopted into English. Most Greek parishes in the US today use both Greek and English in the liturgy (like, say a phrase in Greek, then its equivalent in English). Also check out the traditionalist Russian Orthodox (Russian Church in Exile, Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia).

      • Sherman_McCoy

        That doesn’t surprise me. Since I have studied Russian and Church Slavonic, I do ok with the liturgies (both abbreviated and full versions of St. John Chrysostam), and have attended both ROCOR and Moscow Patriarchiate in Germany where I reside. Unfortunately, the ROCOR was rather welcoming to the Ethiopians, but the MP church was pretty good, with very friendly folks who had immigrated from various parts of the ex-USSR. And above all, they were all white, so there were no uncomfortable conversations required with my children later.

  • copying Obama not good

    Obviously they are trying to immulate the age of the Obama screwup and they need to take note about Obama being the first faggot in the White House and faggoting up the nation an military in America. Bad example to follow.

    You would think Cats would be more for a Puerto Rican, Mexican or South American Pope as there will definitely be a major backlash going to Africa where Cats are only a tiny percentage of the population.

  • Tired

    I can see it now. A negro pope in the Vatican, dirtying renaissance frescoes and destroying all that is culturally sacred about the structure. The catholic church is the enemy of the white man.

  • tkayLA

    I know there’s a lot of ridiculous PC-driven interest in the idea of a Third-World pope, but that would ultimately alienate European and American Catholics–another blow to the ailing health of the Church in those places. I hope at least some of the Church leaders realize this. They have to know that they can’t maintain the Church by pandering to peasants and half-wits in the “developing world” at the expense of the people whose ancestors have been Catholic for dozens of generations. Electing Cardinal Dolan would make better sense; it could reinvigorate the American Catholic Church, and perhaps it would even inspire more people in the States to take up religious vocations. That would be better for the Church as a whole than bringing in new converts in Africa and other such places, most of whom probably wouldn’t be able to understand even the basics of the Catechism.

    • David Ashton

      The truth is that miracle stories and so forth have greater appeal to simple and superstitious minds in Africa and south Asia.
      As Ayn Rand said in a related context, “It is the end of the Aquinas line…. There is tragedy in the spectacle.”

      • jtkayLA

        True, but can the Church really make a living off the donations of African and South Asian peasants?


    I’m not a catholic anymore, and it’s their fault

  • David Ashton

    “Cardinal Peter” has burned his boats by saying that African hostility to same-gender sodomy rules out priestly misbehavior with boys. (On the other hand, how many African monasteries are there?)

    Meanwhile, Conrad Black was quoted (Daily Mail, February 15, p.19) as saying that the outgoing Pope, when a Cardinal, told him that Europe was committing suicide by a low birth-rate and substituting for the unborn large unassimilable numbers from hostile cultures.

  • Let’s be correct-the CC is irrevocably European, never mind the spread throughout the world. Catholicism is adaptable, but the overwhelming majority of cultural behavior we mentally associate with CC is European, even medieval. I’m not a Catholic-nor any other orthodox religionist, although all my relatives are (it’s a national religion here)- but whenever you go with CC, you encounter Europe & the West. Scratch a bit weird rituals of Filipinos or Mexicans, you’ll find baroque churches and Spanish saints & poets like St. John of the Cross.

    In short, with CC you cannot escape European culture, from masses to visual arts.

    That’s why fundamentalist Protestantism is much more successful re proselytizing in Asia, Africa & among Brazil’s blacks. I know whites here who have become Baptists, Pentecostals etc. One thing I noticed they have in common- lack of European “roots” & identity that includes ancient Greece and everything similar. They are truly primitive- not in a derogatory sense- Christians, “spiritual Semites”. Also, Africans, Asians etc. more easily assimilate core Christian beliefs which are not “culturally hued”- there is a natural resistance of non-whites to Mozart, Dante, cathedrals, Titian, Aquinas (and assimilated Aristotle) etc.

    So, as far as Christianity goes, I expect fundamentalist Christians- not Catholics & not mainline Protestants- to become more “tanned”, demographically speaking. As for Church teachings- some are good for us, some not. Perhaps this is necessary in this paradoxical institution- it’s so white European in historical outlook, and so universal in its cultural and political program.

  • Howard W. Campbell

    If I were a betting man, my pick would not be Peter Turkson, but Tarcisio Pietro Evasio Bertone. Pope Benedict has made sure to line up his successor.

  • Shattered

    I wonder if they pick an African for pope if he’ll embezzle.

  • Funruffian

    I grew up as a Catholic and later became more of a free-thinker. I think that religion has its place, but so does science and genetics. Appointing a Black Pope would be an awful idea for the world. Regardless of how pious the guy was it would send the same false message throughout the Christian world as did the election of Barrack Hussein Obama. Catholics have this universal approach to their beliefs. They believe anyone is worthy of salvation as long as they profess to believe. But this is very difficult to determine in an individual. By that same token they also believe in equality which is a tenet of Christianity. But the Bible was written by White men and men who had very minimal knowledge of the sub-races and their crudeness. So the Bible, if we are to adhere to its morality, must also interpret it in a fashion that is aligned with our current global state. Equal opportunity must have its limits.

  • Seek

    It says something about Catholics today that 80 percent of them actually see a nonwhite Pope as either beneficial or of no consequence. Actually, race does matter. And the consequences of ignoring its realities are severe. I myself am not Catholic. That said, if the Cardinals lack the good sense to elect a Caucasian Pope, they are placing their institution, and the West, in jeopardy.