The poll has all sorts of interesting findings, all of which make it pretty clear that Catholics—even devout, practicing Catholics—don't share the views of their Church and don't follow its edicts. And while the Church would obviously like everyone to forget about the decades it has spent protecting its pedophile priests from the law, the laity hasn't exactly gotten over that yet:
Seven out of 10 say Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican have done a poor job of handling sexual abuse, a significant rise from three years ago. A majority said that the issue had led them to question the Vatican’s authority. The sexual abuse of children by priests is the largest problem facing the church, Catholics in the poll said.In fact, 69 percent of respondents said the Vatican has done a poor job of dealing with its abuse problems. That's not very surprising, considering the recently resigned pope spent his pre-papal years directing the cover-up. It's not just the Church's refusal to deal with its widespread abuse problem, though, that has made American Catholics cover their ears and sing, "Lalalalala, we can't hear you."
Even Catholics who frequently attend Mass said they were not following the bishops’ lead on issues that the church had recently invested much energy, money and credibility in fighting — artificial birth control and same-sex marriage.We already know that the majority of Catholic women, like the majority of all American women, have used birth control. When it comes to the Catholic bishops' all-out war on the Obama administration, with outrageous claims and coordinated lawsuits declaring that insurance coverage of birth control is a major and unprecedented attack on their religious liberty, well, once again, that's not how the laity sees it:
But when asked what the debate is about, only 40 percent of Catholics polled said “religious freedom,” while 50 percent said “women’s health and their rights” — an indication that Mr. Obama’s framing of the issue is holding sway even among many Catholics.The other big organizing principle for the Catholic bishops has been its opposition to marriage equality. Just last week, the bishops officially endorsed the "March for Marriage," organized by the hate group National Organization for Marriage, to protest outside of the Supreme Court on the day it hears oral arguments on California's Proposition 8. Once again, though, the Church is way out of step with its followers, with 62 percent favoring marriage equality—which is actually higher than the 53 percent of all Americans who now support it. But of course the leadership isn't listening to the laity, which might have something to do with why they don't really listen to the leadership. They don't even hold much reverence for the papacy anymore. Almost 80 percent said when it comes to "difficult moral questions," they're "more likely to follow their conscience" than the pope's teachings. Even so, Catholics still think, as the cardinals gather for their super-secret pope-picking conclave, they should select someone who will "bring people back to church, modernize the church, unify the church, and do something about sexual abuse."
And sure. Maybe in another 350 years, that's exactly what they'll do.