A growing number of Catholics are now questioning their commitment to the church body in the wake of the recent sexual abuse scandal involving young people and priests, a new Gallup poll has found.
The poll, which was published on Tuesday, shows that 37 percent of U.S. Catholics, a 15 percent increase since the last sexual abuse scandal in 2002, are currently questioning whether they should stay with the church body.
The results of the poll are based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 581 Catholics conducted January 21-February 28 and has a margin of sampling error of ±5 percentage points.
While many more Catholics are questioning their commitment to the church since the 2002 scandal, there was no clear data to suggest whether or not the recent revelations of widespread abuse will cause them to ultimately leave the church.
Jeff Jones, Gallup Poll senior editor, told The Washington Post that the recent polling results are a clear indication of the “frustration” many Catholics are currently dealing with in the wake of the latest scandal.
“As an indication of frustration, it seems like a pretty significant step,” said Jones about Catholics who are thinking of leaving. “Leaving is another one, and we don’t have good data on that. But it does give a sense of the impact [the scandal] is having. And that the impact is greater than it was in 2002.”
Last summer, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office released the results of a two-year grand jury investigation into widespread sexual abuse of children within six dioceses of the Catholic Church in that state that also showed systemic cover-up by senior church officials in Pennsylvania and at the Vatican.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair