The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church

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60 percent in poll say Law should resign as archbishop

By Fred Kaplan, Globe Staff, 4/12/2002

NEW YORK - By 60 percent to 27 percent, Massachusetts Catholics say Cardinal Bernard Law should resign as archbishop of Boston, according to a poll released yesterday.

The other 13 percent were undecided.

The finding was part of a survey - some of it conducted nationwide, some of it in Massachusetts - that shows dismay with how the church hierarchy has handled allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, summed up the results: ''Bad news for the church, very bad news for bishops, especially bad news for Cardinal Law.''

According to the poll, 77 percent of Americans - including 70 percent of Catholics - say bishops who do not report allegations of sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities should resign.

A strong majority of Catholics nationwide - 83 percent - say the controversy has not shaken their religious faith. However, 15 percent - one out of seven - say it has. Thirteen percent, or one out of eight, say it has made them lose faith in the pope.

In Massachusetts, disillusionment seems to run stronger, with 55 percent of the state's Catholics saying they have lost faith in church leaders.

However, in Massachusetts as well as nationwide, nine out of 10 respondents said they trust their priest to be around young people.

Most American Catholics favor reform in church practices. By a 3-to-1 ratio, 67-22, they say priests should be allowed to marry. An only slightly smaller majority, 65-26 percent, favors letting women be ordained as priests.

A majority of Americans, 55 percent, as well as 48 percent of American Catholics, believe the church ban on married priests contributes at least somewhat to the problem of sexual abuse.

The Quinnipiac poll, taken from April 1-9, surveyed 1,347 residents nationwide, including 326 Catholics. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.7 percentage points for results involving all Americans, 5.4 points for those involving just Catholics.

Separately, pollsters surveyed 536 Massachusetts residents, including 252 Catholics. The margin of error was, respectively, 6.5 and 6.2 percentage points.

This story ran on page A17 of the Boston Globe on 4/12/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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