Catholics Surveyed Give Local Bishops a Greater Approval

By Laurie Goodstein
The New York Times
November 7, 2003

Three of every four Roman Catholics who regularly attend Mass say that they want their church to be more financially accountable in the wake of its sexual-abuse crisis, and one in four say that they did not respond this year to financial appeals from the national church, according to a new Gallup survey.

But the survey also suggests that many Catholics who were angry about the scandal last year have begun to change their attitudes toward their local bishops. Forty-nine percent of the respondents said the bishops were doing a "good job" in handling the scandal, up from 35 percent last year.

And most said they had not cut their giving to their parishes or their local dioceses and bishops.

"They're blaming the bishops as a group rather than their own individual bishop," said Francis Butler, president of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, an association of philanthropists, which commissioned the survey.

"They're making distinctions, cutting contributions to things that originate at the bishops conference, whereas things that originate at the diocese or the parish get a more positive reaction," Butler said.

The survey, conducted in October by the Gallup Organization, polled the same Catholics who answered some of the same questions in a similar Gallup survey last year.

The poll last year included 656 parishioners, of whom 309 responded this year. The margin of error when comparing the two polls is plus or minus 7 percentage points, because the group of respondents is small.


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