April 16th, 2010
12:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Most think Catholic Church poorly dealt with child abuse scandal

Washington (CNN) - Most Americans - and most American Catholics - think Pope Benedict XVI has done a bad job dealing with the problem of sexual abuse by Catholics priests, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday also indicates that recent revelations about that matter have hurt the Pope's standing with the public.

Fifty-nine percent of American Catholics questioned in the poll have a favorable view of the Pope, down 19 points from February. Among all Americans, the slippage is even greater - from 59 percent in February to just 35 percent today.

"Only a quarter of U.S. Catholics have an unfavorable view of the Pope, but they don't seem satisifed with his track record on the growing and persistent scandal within the Church," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

According to the survey, 56 percent of U.S. Catholics disapprove of how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with the problem of sexual abuse committed by priests; only about one in three Catholics have a positive view of how he has dealt with that subject. An even larger number - 74 percent - disapprove of how the Church overall has handled that matter.

Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday called for "penitence" for the church's "sins" amid the sex abuse scandal that has embroiled the Roman Catholic Church across Europe, according to Italy's official news agency.

Allegations against the church have piled up this year across Europe, including in Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.\\

Pope Benedict XVI has found himself tied to the crisis after news broke last month that 30 years ago, when he was an archbishop, he approved accommodations in his diocese for a priest accused of child sex abuse so the priest could undergo therapy.

The priest, who was not identified, was let go from church service in 2008, according to church officials in Germany.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted April 9-11, with 1,008 adult Americans, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points and plus or minus 6.5 percentage points for the 231 American Catholics questioned.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story


Filed under: CNN poll • Pope Benedict XVI
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. JoJo

    Beside the Pope having done a bad job at it, he came few days ago, and said "We christians have to repent". Who is WE?. He is the one that is being accused of not handling the abuse cases properly, his priests are the one that are also accused of abusing children, not us. The Pope need to be speaking for himself and his Priests when it comes to repenting.

    April 16, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  2. Silncer

    What do you expect? You take there god giving right to marry and make them take a vow of not having sex wich in fact god commanded that man and woman be together. Bunch of religous hypocrites.

    April 16, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. Barbara

    The pope is taking the church in america down with him. He should leave.

    April 16, 2010 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
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