Church Mishandling Sex Scandal, Poll Says

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Only 43 percent of Americans interviewed in the latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll expressed confidence that the Catholic Church was doing everything it could to prevent future sexual abuse of children by priests.

Forty-seven percent say they have little or no confidence everything possible is being done. While these numbers are better among Catholics (52 percent confident/40 percent not confident), even they do not give the Church an overwhelming vote of confidence.

Fifty-eight percent (62 percent of Catholics) do think there will be real changes in the way the Church handles future cases; only 32 percent are skeptical that changes will be made. Furthermore, when asked to say which is more to blame for the scandal, 24 percent blame the church, 19 percent blame pedophile priests, and only 7 percent blame homosexual priests.

Half the public think the blame has to be apportioned between all these and other groups or can’t say.

Thirty-nine percent of the public think it may be true that pedophiles were drawn to the priesthood by the perception that they would be protected from the law; 36 percent of Catholics concur with this view.

Interestingly, the vast majority of Catholics (61 percent) say they would still be happy if a child of theirs expressed a desire to be a priest. Twenty-seven say that they would be concerned about this career choice; the only job drawing a higher level of concern was "President of the United States" with 28 percent saying they’d be concerned.

Polling was conducted by telephone April 30-May 1, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

1) How confident are you that the Catholic Church is now doing everything possible to prevent future sexual abuse of children by priests?

2) Do you expect to see real changes in how the Catholic Church handles future cases of sexual abuse of children by priests?

3) In the past, before these scandals broke, do you think some pedophiles intentionally became priests because they knew the church would protect them from legal action?

4) Who do you blame the most for the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal?