Catholics are losing faith in clergy and church after sexual abuse scandal, Gallup survey says

American Catholics' faith in the church and clergy has fallen sharply in the last year, according to a new G...

Posted: Jan 11, 2019 6:25 PM
Updated: Jan 11, 2019 6:25 PM

American Catholics' faith in the church and clergy has fallen sharply in the last year, according to a new Gallup survey, as the church struggles to regain credibility amid a damning sexual abuse scandal.

In 2017, nearly half of Catholics in the US (49%) told pollsters they had a "high" or "very high" opinion of the honesty and ethical standards of clergy members. In December of 2018, at the end of the church's "year from hell," that number had dropped to 31%.

Belief, religion and spirituality

Buildings and structures

Catholic Church sexual abuse

Catholics and catholicism

Child abuse

Child sexual abuse

Christianity

Churches and cathedrals

Companies

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal offenses

Gallup Organization

Points of interest

Religious buildings

Religious groups

Religious leaders and clergy

Scandals

Sex crimes

Sexual assault

Sexual misconduct

Societal issues

Society

Violence in society

Papacy and the Pope

Sex and gender issues

Sex scandals

How 2018 became the Catholic Church's year from hell

In 2018, a prominent cardinal resigned in disgrace, grand jurors in Pennsylvania accused 300 Catholic clerics of secretly abusing children over the past 70 years and a former Vatican ambassador urged the Pope himself to step down. And the clergy sex abuse scandal shows no signs of abating, with a federal investigation and ongoing probes in at least 12 states and the District of Columbia.

Most of the alleged abuse, particularly in the grand jury report, occurred before the US Catholic bishops instituted new protocols in 2002 in which they pledged to report to civil authorities all cases of clergy accused of abusing minors.

"The church's credibility has been seriously undercut and diminished by these sins and crimes," Pope Francis told the US Catholic bishops earlier this month, "but even more by the efforts made to deny or conceal them."

"God's faithful people and the Church's mission continue to suffer greatly as a result of abuses of power and conscience and sexual abuse, and the poor way that they were handled, as well as the pain of seeing an episcopate (body of bishops) lacking in unity and concentrated more on pointing fingers than on seeking paths of reconciliation," he added.

The Pope has convened a meeting of bishops from around the world in Rome for February 21-24, saying he wants the church to tackle the scandal together. But, according to Gallup, American Catholics appeared to be losing confidence in the church even before the sexual abuse scandal.

In June of 2017, more than half (52%) of American Catholics professed a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the church or organized religion, according to Gallup. A year later, that number had dropped to 44%. Pennsylvania's grand jury report was released in August.

The survey doesn't ask specifically about Catholic or Protestant clergy, lumping them all together as "clergy," but it's reasonable to assume that Catholics were talking about Catholic clergy, Gallup says, particularly since there have been large drops in Catholics' views of clergy members' ethics several times over the past 20 years, each time after a new sexual abuse scandal in their church has come to light.

General trust in clergy falling

All Americans' trust in clergy -- Catholic and otherwise -- has been falling since 2012, Gallup says. Overall, though, Protestants are more likely to have positive views of the clergy and their church. Nearly half (48%) have "high" or "very high" views of clergy members' honesty and ethical standards, and nearly an identical number profess faith in "the church/organized religion" in general.

Despite the decline in trust of their church and its clergy, American Catholics' percentage of the population has been holding steady at about 22%, Gallup found, while identification with Protestant traditions has "dropped precipitously" in the last decade.

Much of the church's stability can be traced to Latino immigration, Gallup says. Three in 10 American Catholics are now Latino, who make up 15% of the American population at large.

Despite their church's troubles, a slight majority of Catholics (52%) still say religion is "very important" in their lives, a number that has stayed relatively stable since 2001, Gallup says.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 26980

Reported Deaths: 1159
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin9099657
Ramsey3351149
Stearns205614
Nobles15775
Anoka152779
Dakota144664
Washington70035
Olmsted68911
Rice5243
Kandiyohi5141
Scott4712
Clay44930
Mower4462
Wright3492
Todd3441
Sherburne2492
Carver2402
Benton1853
Steele1700
Freeborn1590
Blue Earth1490
Martin1355
St. Louis11914
Lyon1012
Unassigned9611
Pine930
Nicollet8811
Cottonwood820
Winona8115
Crow Wing815
Watonwan790
Carlton750
Goodhue736
Otter Tail731
Chisago691
Polk632
Itasca5610
Dodge540
Chippewa521
Morrison480
Le Sueur471
Douglas460
Meeker460
Becker440
Jackson420
Murray410
McLeod410
Isanti360
Pennington300
Waseca290
Mille Lacs241
Rock230
Faribault220
Wabasha200
Swift191
Beltrami180
Sibley170
Brown172
Fillmore171
Norman150
Pipestone130
Kanabec121
Aitkin120
Marshall120
Cass112
Big Stone110
Wilkin113
Wadena100
Pope100
Koochiching90
Redwood70
Yellow Medicine70
Renville70
Mahnomen61
Lincoln60
Red Lake40
Traverse40
Grant40
Clearwater30
Houston30
Hubbard30
Lac qui Parle30
Roseau30
Stevens10
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 21114

Reported Deaths: 593
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4614140
Woodbury286137
Black Hawk178849
Buena Vista10672
Linn97879
Dallas95226
Marshall91418
Wapello63615
Johnson6198
Muscatine56741
Crawford5512
Tama41129
Scott38510
Dubuque35921
Louisa35011
Pottawattamie31910
Sioux3060
Jasper26917
Wright2210
Washington1968
Warren1671
Plymouth1522
Story1311
Allamakee1204
Mahaska9913
Poweshiek928
Hamilton760
Webster741
Henry732
Boone720
Bremer716
Clarke690
Des Moines681
Taylor660
Clinton651
Guthrie553
Cedar501
Benton431
Cherokee410
Monroe415
Jones370
Shelby370
Osceola360
Jefferson360
Marion350
Dickinson350
Buchanan341
Iowa340
Clayton343
Cerro Gordo331
Madison292
Lee290
Sac280
Davis280
Emmet270
Fayette270
Clay270
Monona260
Harrison260
Hardin240
Lyon240
Winneshiek240
Lucas222
Mills200
Grundy200
Franklin200
Humboldt201
Pocahontas200
Delaware191
Floyd191
Hancock180
Appanoose173
Butler161
Kossuth160
Carroll151
Ida150
Greene150
Keokuk140
Jackson140
Page140
Audubon131
Cass130
Chickasaw130
Howard120
Winnebago110
Calhoun100
Union100
Van Buren90
Adair90
Montgomery92
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Unassigned20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Rochester
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 76°
Mason City
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 82°
Albert Lea
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 81°
Austin
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 81°
Charles City
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 81°
Weekend looks nice
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Chris' PM Weather Forecast 6/5

Image

Gyms, fitness centers set to reopen

Image

Easing restrictions for MN restaurants and gyms

Image

Charles City vigil for George Floyd

Image

Hawkeye Harvest Foodbank partnership

Image

Next phase of Minnesota reopening

Image

Rental Assistance program for Rochester

Image

IA Care Homes Could Reopen to Visitors

Image

'Color Me Mine' Location Closes for Good

Image

Getting Your Fair Food Fix During the Pandemic

Community Events