Poll: Faith in clergy’s hon­esty drops among U.S. Catholics

Medicine Hat News - - FAITH - NI­COLE WIN­FIELD

VAT­I­CAN CITY Fewer than a third of U.S. Catholics rate the hon­esty and eth­i­cal stan­dards of clergy as “very high” or “high,” the lat­est ev­i­dence of the hi­er­ar­chy’s di­min­ished cred­i­bil­ity as a re­sult of the clergy sex abuse scan­dal, ac­cord­ing to a Gallup poll re­leased Fri­day.

The record-low 31 per cent hon­esty rat­ing marked an 18per­cent­age-point drop from 2017, a large fall after years of steady de­cline that fol­lowed a new global ex­plo­sion of the scan­dal and rev­e­la­tions of high-rank­ing coverup.

Catholics aren’t alone in the cri­sis, how­ever. The Gallup sur­vey also found that while the Protes­tants’ 48 per cent pos­i­tive rat­ing for clergy is higher than Catholics’, 2018 marked the first time that fewer than half of sur­veyed Protes­tants had high marks for cler­i­cal hon­esty.

The poll of 1,025 adults was con­ducted Dec. 3-12 and had a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or mi­nus four per­cent­age points. For re­sults based on the to­tal sam­ple of 210 Catholics, the mar­gin was plus or mi­nus eight per­cent­age points.

The cred­i­bil­ity of the Catholic Church hi­er­ar­chy tanked in 2018 after new reports of old abuse and coverup were un­cov­ered in the U.S., Chile and else­where and im­pli­cated Pope Fran­cis him­self. In the U.S., the Penn­syl­va­nia grand jury re­port al­leged seven decades of abuse and coverup, while ex-Car­di­nal Theodore McCar­rick’s down­fall ex­posed how the hi­er­ar­chy knew that he slept with sem­i­nar­i­ans, but turned a blind eye.

A pre­vi­ous Gallup poll found that Catholics’ over­all con­fi­dence in the church and or­ga­nized re­li­gion — already de­clin­ing last year — dropped from 52 per cent in June 2017 to 44 per cent by June 2018, be­fore the U.S. scan­dal had even hit.

Mass at­ten­dance has also been on a steady de­cline and hit a new low last year, with 36 per cent of Catholics re­port­ing they had at­tended Mass in the past week.

Nev­er­the­less, Gallup found that a ma­jor­ity of Catholics still view re­li­gion as “very im­por­tant” in their lives. And the sur­vey noted that the per­cent­age of Amer­i­cans who self-iden­tify as Catholic has re­mained sta­ble, thanks in large part to the grow­ing His­panic pop­u­la­tion in the U.S.

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