As the U.S. Catholic bishops meet this week in an effort to turn the tide on the clergy abuse crisis, a new study reveals that a majority of Americans believe abuse at the hands of priests and bishops to be an “ongoing problem” – with one-quarter of Catholics scaling back Mass attendance as a consequence.
Yet despite the ongoing nature of the problem, new findings released on Tuesday by the Pew Research Center show that most Americans do not believe that the abuse of minors is more likely to occur in a religious setting than in a nonreligious one.
As Catholic leaders seek to turn the page on the crisis which has dominated headlines since last summer following the downfall of one of the American Church’s most prominent leaders, the former priest and cardinal Theodore McCarrick, as well as a Pennsylvania Grand Jury report chronicling seven decades of abuse that triggered over a dozen statewide investigations in the Catholic Church, 27 percent of Catholics say they have scaled back Mass attendance and 26 percent have reduced their financial contributions to their parish.
Even so, 55 percent of respondents said they believe Pope Francis has done an “excellent” or “good” job responding to the abuse crisis, with 64 percent of Mass going Catholics approving of his handling of it.
On a local level, 49 percent of Catholics give their bishop a favorable approval. On the whole, however, only 36 percent said the same thing about the U.S. bishops as a collective body.
More than 6,364 U.S. adults were involved in a poll conducted online March 18 to April 1, 2019, which took place after Francis convened the head of every Catholic bishops’ conference from around the world to Rome for a summit where he pledged an “all out war” on abuse.
The above comes from a June 11 story in Crux Now.
For full results of Pew Center study, click here.