PopeWatch: Vox Populi, Vox Humbug
Well, I guess this was inevitable. We are now beginning to see polls which tell us that American Catholics back the Pope because they believe he is taking the Church in a liberal direction:
Pope Francis’ comments that the Catholic Church should not focus so much on homosexuality, abortion and contraception have met with strong approval from U.S. Catholics, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Friday.
Sixty-eight percent of American Catholics agree with comments the Pope made to that effect in an interview published last month in the Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica, while 23 percent disagreed, according to the poll. There was little difference in opinion between observant and less-observant Catholics, women and men, and among age groups, the poll found.
“Maybe they were just waiting for a Jesuit,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. Francis is the first pope from the religious order of the Jesuits, an order known for its intellectuals and iconoclasts.
The poll also found that 60 percent of American Catholics support women’s ordination – though the Pope had recently reaffirmed the ban on women’s ordination. Support is highest among those who attend services less frequently and Catholics over the age of 65.
The survey also found that Catholic opinion on abortion is similar to the opinion of all American adults – with 52 percent of Catholics saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 53 percent of the general public.
These Catholics have obviously gotten the message through media coverage of the Pope that the Church, rather than resisting abortion, homosexuality, contraception, etc, is now just going to go with the flow. Not just laity are getting that impression, judging from a comment left on Pat Archbold’s Pope Traumatic Stress Disorder post at National Catholic Register:
This weekend our pastor wrote a column in which he compared people who identify as pro-life to his old friend Tim, a morbidly obese individual who washed down his bacon-cheeseburger and fries with diet coke in the hopes of losing weight. He went on to say that the agenda of pro-lifers is far too often anti-abortion, when it should be much broader and include gun control, environmental issues, the death penalty, yada, yada. Abortion “cannot trump the vast myriad of other life issues”. He cited the Pope’s interview as “long-overdue” support of this position. Needless to say, those of us on the parish pro-life committee feel as if we’ve been punched in the gut. Until this happened I thought you were being unnecessarily alarmist, but believe me, now I get your point.
Is this what the Pope intended? I doubt it. However, when a Pope speaks as carelessly as this Pope has, in a world where the mainstream media is almost entirely opposed to traditional Christian morality, it takes no towering intellect to see the consequences from the statements he has uttered. The Church has usually prided herself on being countercultural. At the start of the pontificate of Pope Francis, many Catholics are hearing a message through the media that this is no longer the case.