K of C Marist Poll Results

On Eve of Papal Visit, Poll Finds Practicing Catholics Support Church Teaching

Survey tested range of issues from the Eucharist and sacraments, to abortion and marriage.

On the eve of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, a new Knights of Columbus-Marist poll reveals that practicing Catholics approve of Pope Francis at even higher rates than non-practicing Catholics or Americans in general, and also support Church teaching by much wider margins than other groups.

Among all Americans, Pope Francis enjoys an approval rating of nearly six in 10 (58 percent). Among non-practicing Catholics the number grows to seven in 10 (70 percent), but among practicing Catholics, the number jumps to more than eight in 10 (83 percent).

On key issues, practicing Catholics also support Church teaching at higher rates than either non-practicing Catholics or the general population.

“It should come as no surprise that Catholics who regularly attend Mass support the Church’s position in the greatest numbers,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “But to measure accurately what Catholics really believe, this survey highlights the importance of looking at the level of Catholic practice in this country when discussing Catholics’ opinions on issues.”

Concerning the importance of various aspects of living out the faith, more than nine in 10 practicing and non-practicing Catholics see charity as important. (96 percent/practicing vs. 92 percent/non-practicing).

Both practicing and non-practicing Catholics see the following issues as important, although practicing Catholics are more likely to see the value of these issues:

    • Daily prayer (96 percent/practicing vs. 79 percent/non-practicing).
    • Following the teachings of the Church (93 percent/practicing vs. 70 percent/non-practicing).
    • Receiving the sacraments (93 percent/practicing vs. 61 percent/non-practicing).
    • Attending Mass regularly (89 percent/practicing vs. 42 percent/non-practicing).

In addition, 83 percent of practicing Catholics think it is important to belong to a parish andabout half of non-practicing Catholics (48 percent) see this as important. About three quarters of practicing Catholics (72 percent) believe it is important to go to confession at least annually, and about four in 10 (39 percent) of non-practicing Catholics say the same.

A more notable contrast was in beliefs about the Eucharist. About two-thirds of practicing Catholics (65 percent) say the Eucharist is the true presence of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, a similar number of non-practicing Catholics (64 percent) say it is just “a symbol.”

On abortion, 60 percent of Americans and 51 percent of non-practicing Catholics say abortion is “morally wrong.” Among practicing Catholics, that jumps more than 20 points to more than 8 in 10 (81 percent). Practicing Catholics are also seven points more likely to want substantial restrictions on abortion than Americans as a whole (91 percent to 84 percent).

Practicing Catholics (54 percent) are more likely than Americans as a whole (49 percent) and twice as likely as non-practicing Catholics (27 percent) to see same-sex marriage as morally wrong.

Almost three quarters of practicing Catholics (73 percent) support the protection of religious liberty – even when it conflicts with government laws. Two-thirds of Americans say the same (67 percent) as do six in 10 non-practicing Catholics.

This survey of 1,027 adults and 222 Catholic Americans was conducted on August 4th through August 17th, 2015 on both landline and cell phones. Results are statistically significant within ±3.1 percentage points and ±6.6 percentage points, respectively.

Additional results are based on a survey of 3,002 adults and 702 Catholic Americans conducted April 6, 2015 through April 14, 2015 on both landline and cell phones. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish by telephone using live interviewers. Results are statistically significant within ±1.8 percentage points and ±3.7 percentage points, respectively.

Though Most Know Little About Him, Pope Viewed Favorably by Americans

Catholics follow pope much more closely and trust Catholic media most for coverage

With Pope Francis visiting the United States in just under a month, a newly released Knights of Columbus-Marist poll shows the pope is popular, but largely unknown by the American public.

Nearly six in 10 Americans (58 percent) have a favorable or very favorable view of the pope. That 58 percent number is identical to the favorability rating of Pope Benedict XVI on the eve of his trip to the United States in 2008. Only 10 percent have an unfavorable view of Pope Francis. About a third (32 percent) are unsure or have not heard about him.

Catholics view the Holy Father even more favorably, with 77 percent of Catholics and 83 percent of practicing Catholics viewing him favorably or very favorably.

However, three quarters of Americans (74 percent) know little or nothing about Pope Francis’ visit to the US next month. That number drops to two-thirds (65 percent) among Catholics, and just over half of practicing Catholics (55 percent).

Similarly, about two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans say they rarely or never follow news stories about Pope Francis. The number flips for practicing Catholics, with two-thirds saying they follow news stories about him (67 percent), as do six in 10 Catholics overall (60 percent).

Nevertheless, nearly three quarters of Americans (72 percent) think the pope has a message for all Americans. That number grows to nine in 10 for practicing Catholics (90 percent) and a similar number of Catholics as a whole (88 percent).

Most Americans rate the pope highly for his roles as a spiritual leader, someone who cares about people like them, for his work on interfaith relations, and as a world leader.

“On his trip to the United States, not only will Pope Francis get to know the American people, but the American people will also get to know him,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “The pope is popular among Americans, and especially among Catholics, and there is a hunger for his message, with the vast majority of Americans understanding that he brings message for all of us.”

The survey also found that more than half (56 percent) of Americans – and six in 10 practicing Catholics (60 percent) – think news about Pope Francis is shaped by reporters’ own points of view. Only about one third of each group (35 percent) rates news stories about the pope as “mostly accurate.”

Multiple news sources (CNN, New York Times, FOX News, Local Newspapers, Catholic News Outlets, and the Wall Street Journal) are all rated as trusted by about four in 10 Americans to deliver accurate news about Pope Francis (between 42 and 39 percent – all within the margin of error). Among Catholics, the numbers change drastically. By contrast, seven in 10 practicing Catholics (69 percent) trust Catholic media outlets to report on Pope Francis’ visit

The survey also found that the Catholic Church gets good marks from two-thirds of Americans (66 percent), including 95 percent of practicing Catholics and 90 percent of non-practicing Catholics. Similar numbers say the Catholic Church contributes to people and communities in the United States: (67 percent of Americans, 75 percent of non-practicing Catholics, and 87 percent of practicing Catholics).

This survey of 1,027 adults and 222 Catholic Americans was conducted on August 4th through August 17th, 2015 on both landline and cell phones. Results are statistically significant within ±3.1 percentage points and ±6.6 percentage points, respectively.

Additional results are based on a survey of 3,002 adults and 702 Catholic Americans conducted April 6, 2015 through April 14, 2015 on both landline and cell phones. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish by telephone using live interviewers. Results are statistically significant within ±1.8 percentage points and ±3.7 percentage points, respectively.


More Knights of Columbus-Marist Polls

 
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2015
4/16/2015 Assisted Suicide Bills Fail in Several States as Poll Shows Little Support and Major Concerns
3/16/2015 Connecticut Residents Not in Favor of Doctors’ Administering or Prescribing Fatal Drugs
1/21/2015 84% of Americans Would Ban Abortion After 3 Months of Pregnancy
2014
1/21/2014 New Survey Finds 84% of Americans Support Significant Abortion Restrictions
2013
3/27/2013 Most Americans Plan to Attend Church on Easter Sunday
3/7/2013 American Catholics Praise and Respect
Pope Benedict XVI
1/8/2013 Poll Finds More than 8 in 10 Americans Favor Significant Abortion Restrictions
2012
12/20/2012 Two-Thirds of Americans Prefer Merry Christmas Greeting
7/24/2012 New Poll Finds Nearly 8 in 10 Americans "Frustrated" by Tone of Political Campaigns
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