Catholic Public Opinion Research in the Wake of Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation

With Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, the news media has found it a good time to discuss public opinion research on Catholic related issues.  For instance, The Washington Post has an article today entitled “Benedict XVI leaves as popular pope, but no John Paul II,” which discusses favorability ratings of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope John Paul II.  Looking at the graphic, I found it interesting that while both Catholics and non-Catholics in the U.S. have a less favorable impression of Pope Benedict XVI than they had of Pope John Paul II at the end of his papacy, both Catholics and non-Catholics now rate the Catholic Church more favorably than they did in 2005.  It is interesting to speculate on why there might be an increase in favorable impressions by Catholics (and non-Catholics) toward the Catholic Church.  Perhaps the higher rating is due to stricter standards regarding clerical sex abuse on behalf of Church leaders, as well as the fact that more time has passed since the clerical sex abuse crisis came to forefront of media attention in 2002.  Such findings also show that the Catholic Church is still rated favorably by those who self-identify as Catholic, despite most American Catholics not attending Mass weekly.

Turning to Pope Benedict XVI’s favorability, it is worthwhile to note that the graphic accords with previous research by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which in August of 2012 found that 74% of Catholics were satisfied with the leadership of the pope. Thus, overall Catholics view Pope Benedict favorably.

Feel free to post any other interesting articles related to public opinion research on Catholics that you have come across since Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation in the comment section below.

2012-02-17 pope

2 thoughts on “Catholic Public Opinion Research in the Wake of Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation

  1. Linda, I thought a recent post in CARA’s blog (by Mark Gray) was really useful for people wanting to assess Catholicism over a period of time with social science data.

    The piece provides links to CARA blog posts that are grouped under the following topics: Catholic Population Changes, Mass Attendance, Vocations, Parish Life, How the Church Works, Catholics and the “Nones”

    If folks are interested in data-driven assessments of U.S. Catholics, I can’t think of a better post to send them to than this one.