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New Survey Examines Catholic Attitudes toward Church Doctrine

A new series of surveys in 12 countries with large Roman Catholic populations around the world reveals high marks for Pope Francis while showing discord with the Vatican on a number of key social issues.FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP / GETTY

A full 87 percent of Catholics polled report Pope Francis is doing an excellent or a good job as pontiff. However, respondents disagree with Catholic doctrine on some social issues. For instance, a majority (65 percent) say abortion should be allowed in some or all cases, and more than three-quarters (78 percent) support the use of contraception. Roughly 6-in-10 (58 percent) Catholics disagree with the church’s teaching on divorce, and they’re roughly split on whether priests should be allowed to marry (47 percent say no, 50 percent say yes) and whether women should be allowed to become Catholic priests (51 percent say no, 45 percent say yes). Catholics polled are more in line with the church’s stance on same-sex marriage, with just 3-in-10 (30 percent) supporting same-sex marriage and nearly two-thirds (66 percent) opposed.

PRRI CEO Dr. Robert P. Jones offers his take on the findings:

“The survey shows remarkably high support from Catholics worldwide for Pope Francis, whose job favorability rating of 87 percent is one that any leader would covet. But the survey also shows the challenges Pope Francis has in shepherding a global church that largely rejects official church teaching on such key issues as contraception, abortion, and divorce, and that is deeply divided on other issues between developing countries, such as those in Africa and Asia on the one hand, and the more developed world, such as North America, Europe, and Latin America on the other.”

For more on Jones’s analysis of the new survey, be sure to catch him on NPR’s Interfaith Voices this Sunday at 4:00PM EST! And for a closer look at the survey’s findings, check regional and country breaks of the results at The Washington Post.