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Amidst scandals, Gallup poll proves 37% of U.S. Catholics questioned leaving the Church


The last time a Gallup Poll took inventory on whether or not Catholics question their commitment to the Church was in 2002, after the Boston Globe uncovered mass clerical abuse. 

Seventeen years later, it's taking another look. The 581 U.S. Catholic poll participants prove that 37 percent of Catholics have questioned if they should remain in the Church after the abuse scandal. While in 2002, the number was 22 percent.  

Fr. George Woodall, an expert in Canon Law and professor in Rome, explains his perceptions of these numbers.

FR. GEORGE WOODALL
Professor, Regina Apostolorum University
"The numbers are an increase of 15 percent. So that is very, very significant. Anybody who has been a victim of sexual abuse by clerics is bound to feel very, very disturbed and aggrieved. Particularly at this length of time, that they still find themselves as far as they can see, in the same situation.”

However, he asserts that the Church has made large strides in combatting these abuses. In the United States alone the Dallas Charter and zero-tolerance have been enforced, showing most of the abuse cases are before these were set into place.

FR. GEORGE WOODALL
Professor, Regina Apostolorum University
“The complaints under these scandals that continue to emerge, relate to several years ago, before the improvements of the Church law by John Paul and by Benedict XVI, and whatever Pope Francis will do in the forthcoming period. So we cannot go back to the 1980s or 70s. “It's wrong to give the impression that the Church has not changed since then. It has changed enormously.”

The Gallup Poll also reveals that participants' answers depended on how often they frequented the Catholic Church. Eighty-six percent of those who attend Mass weekly have confidence in the priests in their parish, whileas 39 percent who seldom or never attend Mass do. 

Likewise, Pope Francis' acceptance rating seems to have decreased some. Currently 58 percent of Catholics have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in him, while 41 percent in total have some or little confidence.