U.S. poll: Church is out of touch

Posted: March 12, 2013

AMAJORITY OF American Roman Catholics consider the church out of touch with their views, and they want the new pope to usher in policies that reflect more modern attitudes, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The poll suggests most Catholics in the United States hope the next pope will move the church in a new direction that someday could include married priests and female priests.

Yet even as six in 10 Catholics characterize the church as not in line with their attitudes and lifestyles, 86 percent said it remains relevant, according to the poll, conducted last week. And more than two-thirds of the Catholics polled praise retired Pope Benedict XVI, saying he did a "good" or "excellent" job.

The seemingly contradictory results reflect a schism between regular churchgoers and those who attend church less frequently. Catholics who go nearly weekly are more likely to say they want the new pope to maintain traditions. Those who go less frequently are more apt to favor change.

The poll shows a greater yearning for change than when Benedict became pope in 2005. At about the time he was selected, fully half of American Catholics wanted the church to stick with traditional policies; now, 38 percent say so.

The poll found that 55 percent of Catholics oppose the ban on married priests, and 58 percent oppose the prohibition on female priests. About a third say they want to keep the priesthood male and unmarried.

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