Poll finds US Catholics support Pope's pronouncements

(Photo; REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst)Security agents keep watch as members of the clergy enter the church for the start of the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew in Washington, October 6, 2013. The Red Mass, named for the color of the vestments worn by the clergy, is an annual Roman Catholic mass held by the John Carroll Society and the Archdiocese of Washington to ask for blessings and wisdom on the judiciary and government officials before the start of the U.S. Supreme Court's new term. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Catholics in the United States overwhelmingly support Pope Francis, according to a poll released Friday.

American Catholics also agree with his statements that the Church should focus less on social issues such as contraception, abortion and homosexuality.

The survey by Quinnipiac University shows that two in three (68 percent) adult Catholics questioned said they agreed with the pontiff's observation that the church has become too focused on issues such as homosexuality, abortion and contraception

It meshed with other survey such as one by Pew.

A September 19 headline in the news on the Pew survey said "Majority of U.S. Catholics' opinions run counter to church on contraception, homosexuality."

Michael Lipka, assistant editor at the Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project wrote that a survey - conducted before Pope Francis comments on those subjects were published - showed that most U.S. Catholics view Pope Francis favorably.

Quinnipiac University conducted an online poll from September 23 – 29 from participants in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, as a public service.

It sought to learn Catholics' opinions on gay marriage after Pope Francis' recent pronouncement that the Church has become too fixated on homosexuality, abortion and contraceptives.

Director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, Douglas Schwartz, stated on the school's website, "American Catholics support same-sex marriage 60-31 percent, compared to the 56-36 percent support among all U.S. adults."

Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute stated, "American Catholics liked what they heard when Pope Francis said the Church should stop talking so much about issues like gay marriage, abortion and contraception."

"On the two issues that have prompted some pulpit thundering, same-sex marriage and abortion, Catholics are right in line, or even a little ahead, of their non-Catholic neighbors," Carroll said.

"There's one big issue where Catholics split with current church practice: by 2-1 they'd like to have women priests. Women and men feel about the same on this issue.

On Francis' recent statement, President Barack Obama stated, "I have been hugely impressed with the Pope's pronouncements... He is also somebody's whose first and foremost thinking about how to embrace people as opposed to pushing them away, he finds out what's good in them, as opposed to condemning them."

Jansing and Co. did a recent interview with Father Dave Dwyer where he announced that the Pope contacted an atheist, after the atheist wrote to him, in hopes to arrange a meeting with him. Dwyer states, "The first thing this editor of an Italian magazine said to him is my friends think you are going to try to convert me. The Pope said that would be nonsense to try to convert you. I need to listen to you."

In addition, the majority of Catholics have a positive opinion of him.

Quinnipiac University found, "Catholics like their new Pope: 36 percent have a 'very favorable' opinion of him and 53 percent have a 'favorable' opinion, with 4 percent 'unfavorable.'

Because the mainstream of Catholics support his recent pronouncement about same-sex marriage, will the Church continue to stand behind him as he makes big changes with the Vatican?

On October 2 at St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis said he promises to make big changes to how the Vatican operates. As of now, he has gathered eight cardinals to rewrite church laws.

Jansing and Co. interviewed Dave Gibson from Religious News Service in regards to how conservatives are dealing with the Pope's commitment to change how the Vatican operates.

Gibson said, "Thirty-years now, they have had it pretty good. There is a lot of dissention there about this pope, a lot of concern that he is undoing things that they have worked for. If he gets a real push back from the right, it could spell trouble for his papacy."

Pope Francis has leaders such as President Obama backing his actions and trusting him as an individual, while others have concerns that he is undoing things that they have worked for provoking the question, will his big changes make a positive or negative influence for his followers?

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