A new poll from CBS News/New York Times shows a significant gulf between what the hierarchy of the Catholic Church teaches and what American Catholics actually believe. Even those who attend Mass frequently are quite far out of step from how the bishops are spending their time and money. Here’s a quick glimpse at the disconnect:
- 62 percent of Catholics favor same-sex marriage.
- 79 percent favor the use of artificial methods of birth control.
- 91 percent believe the next pope should favor using condoms to prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases.
- 53 percent believe the Catholic Church is out of touch with the needs of Catholics.
- 69 percent believe the next pope should favor allowing priests to get married.
- 69 percent believe the next pope should favor allowing women to become priests.
In addition, Catholics are split on the question of whether health insurance plans should have to cover birth control, but are more likely to see it as an issue of women’s health and rights than one of “religious freedom.” Notably, 53 percent believe the government does not restrict the religious liberty of Catholics, while only 43 percent believe it does.
The Catholic bishops have shown that they wield an incredible amount of influence on U.S. politics, particularly its excessive spending on campaigns challenging marriage equality at the ballots. What’s clear though is that the hierarchy of the Church speaks only for itself and does little to represent its massive constituency, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon — 83 percent of Catholics believe they can disagree with the pope on social issues and still be “a good Catholic.”