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US Catholics like Pope Benedict but many ready for new direction, married priests

Pope Benedict XVI gets favorable marks from three-fourths of his U.S. flock, even though many of them want to see the next pope move in new directions. - Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI gets favorable marks from three-fourths of his U.S. flock, even though many of them want to see the next pope move in new directions. – Vincenzo Pinto / AFP – Getty Images

(NBC News) Roughly one in two American Catholics believes the next pope should take the church in a new direction and supports the idea of married priests, a new survey has found.

But the push toward modernization hasn’t made the current, very traditional pontiff unpopular.

Three-fourths of U.S. Catholics have a favorable view of outgoing Pope Benedict XVI in the survey from the Pew Research Center released Thursday.

Still, Pope Benedict, who will resign next week, has seen his favorability ratings dip from a high of 83% in April 2008, just after he visited the United States, and his numbers have always been lower than those of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

The sexual-abuse scandal that has roiled the church hasn’t helped. The survey found only a third think he has done a good or excellent job of handling the crisis, down from almost half in 2008.

With the College of Cardinals poised to select a new pope, Pew found Americans deeply divided about whether he should hew to the traditional positions (51 percent) or “move in new directions” (46 percent). Those who went to Mass once a week were more likely to skew traditional, while college graduates were more likely to support change.

Married priests, women in the priesthood, and acceptance of contraception and same sex-marriage were named more often as desirable new directions than relaxing church strictures against divorce or abortion.

A majority of Catholics are also ready for a pope from outside of Europe, saying it would be welcome if he hailed from a developing region of the world such as South America, Asia or Africa.

The results were based on two national surveys conducted between Feb. 13 and Feb. 18 that included a total of 2,507 people.


NBC News



  1. Tony says:

    Another aspect is that there are many married prests in the eastern Chuches united to Rome they are not Orthodox but united to Bome.

  2. Phantom says:

    Stand with your churchs teachings.This whole country has negotiated its future away.
    50 per-cent want change I say
    love it or leave it!

  3. Andrew says:

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1577-78: Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination. The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason, the ordination of women is not possible. No one has a right to receive a sacrament of Holy Orders. Indeed no one claims this office for himself; he is called to it by God. Anyone who thinks he recognizes the signs of God’s call to the ordained ministry must humbly submit his desire to the authority of the Church, who has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive orders. Like every grace this sacrament can be received only as an unmerited gift.

    • Ann says:

      Sounds like a gay group to me; bound to a woman who demands nothing of them. Give it a rest Andrew! Ordained women, men, married with families, and intelligent contraceptive health care would make the church more transparent, and, foundational to holiness, healthy.

      • Ann says:

        Correction: nothing wrong with gay and nothing wrong with ordained gay. What is wrong is refusing to own one’s sexuality, church’s refusal to ordain gay men, and the secret blackmailing that finds a home in the church because of the church’s denials and delusions.

      • Andrew says:

        Ann, you are either not Catholic or a defiant rebel who hates the Church. The Catechism is the law of the land for faithful Catholics and it is a sin to challenge it. Regarding “contraceptive (not) health care”, I refer you to 2399: The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means, for example direct sterilization or contraception.

    • Recovering Catholic says:

      This nonsense is nothing but male chauvenism concocted and written into the catechism by closed-minded, anti-women “supposed” celibates. During Jesus’ lifetime, males dominated and controlled the culture. Jesus didn’t think like that. He approved of Martha taking the better road in listening to his teaching at his feet while Mary cooked. He wanted women to be brought out of that suffocating male culture into the light. Ignorant, controlling males in the church have done everything they could to keep women out of full participation and leadership in the church and in their continued arrogance, continue to do so today. That reasoning you cite above is so absurd. Anybody can “twist” language around to make it say what they want it to say. Andrew, you need to train your mind to do think critically. Take some college courses to help you there. I’m sure you’ll “get it” in time. Don’t just drink the Koolaid.

      • Andrew says:

        Recovering… You have chosen to leave the Church by your own free will. Your opinion therefore is runaway juvenile delinquent lecturing his/her parents from afar. If you’re so concerned about the affairs of the Church, enroll yourself in an RCIA program and (re) learn something.

      • Andrew says:

        From the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2334: In creating men ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity. Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God.

        • blag says:

          …but only men can serve as the likeness of god for duties performed during mass.

          That’s right folks: separate but equal. I mean, that’s exactly what Brown v. Board of Education was about! Same principle.


    • cheryl says:

      The 12 apostles were also all Jews and many, if not all, were married. Why aren’t those conditions imposed on our priests? Seems like the church has selectively chosen only the characteristic of “maleness” as a condition to priesthood. I am asking in complete sincerity why priests do not have to be jewish and married if all the apostles were, but must be male? Am I missing something obvious?

      • blag says:

        The rebuttal is that priests are acting in the image of god during mass, and so they must follow what Jesus did (celibate, unmarried).

        One of the ridiculous parts of it all is that Anglican priests can get married, have kids, get divorced or widowed, and then convert to Catholicism and be a priest.

        Another ridiculous part of it is that both men and women were supposedly created in the image of god, so disallowing women is basically “separate but equal”, which is a fallacious legal argument.

        It’s all silly.

      • Catholic Lady says:

        Yes; Cheryl, you are missing something – Jesus was a Jew – you need to get into the scriptures – perhaps the Acts of the Apostles will help, the beginning of the church.

        • cheryl says:

          but Catholic Lady, you didn’t answer my question. ( I know Jesus was a Jew and I read scripture every day.) Please re-read my question and if you can, respond to it in full. to reiterate: the argument used to deny priesthood to women is that all the chosen apostles were men. Well, they were also all jews and probably all married. Therefore, why aren’t those qualities required to become a priest. Do you understand what I’m asking?

  4. Lou says:

    In other words Tony, a “Do your own thing” guy who bends to every whim and fancy that comes down the pike. Most people love a anything goes leader. Forget about sexual morality and teaching the Gospel Principle of the “Narrow Way.” Forget about true compassion which teaches the truth about how we are to act as Christians. Give me what I want and I will love you,”Holy Father” and never speak a word against you, ever. I have an idea! We should campaign to have Barack Obama elected Pope. He’s ruining the country, why not the church and the world. Compassion without truth is distructive.

    • Concerned says:

      Lou- I hope you are not insinuating that we have had truth in the Church as of late? With all the cover ups? All the lies? How about a person who can adjust to the times, especially for those things that have been held on to simply out of fear?

    • blag says:

      This is the fallacy of the false dichotomy: either you agree with everything the church teaches, or you are a “do your own thing” guy who bends to every whim and fancy that comes down the pike.

      In reality, it is possible to disagree with a single doctrine of the the Catholic church without rejecting every single one of their doctrines and bending to every popular whim.

      Please go take a Logic 101 course at your local university.

  5. Mary Bethany says:

    Yes! May our next pope lead us in being a welcoming, hope-filled church. Too often I feel like I am being harangued to death.

  6. Tony says:

    We need a guy who speaks out loudly and clearly for the liberation of the poor and the marginalized, a guy who is open to service of women in every ministry including diaconate and priesthood.
    A guy who is willing to embrace all the people of God, gay, straight or bisexual.
    A guy who doesn’t look to excommunicate but rather embrace.
    A guy who can put on the mind of Christ and lead with the heart of Christ.

    • Andrew says:

      No women priests! The Catholic Church does not, never have and never will ordain women to the priesthood. That is a dogma of the Church. Faithful Catholic women (and no, the feminists who post here are not in that category) have no problem with the male priesthood. For the umpteenth time, the Catholic Church is not some ever-evolving thing that changes to satisfy a changing world. The world we live in is sinful, sorrowful and increasingly stupid. The Catholic Church is Gods gift up our ungrateful world. It’s right, always has been and always will be right. You can choose to disagree but it’s idiotic to think you can and will change Gods Church.

      • Concerned says:

        If a selfish, egotistical hierarchy had not turned God’s Church into a church that fulfills their own needs we might have something. Andrew, you are so blind that you can not even imagine God calling the church to evolve. Well Andrew the church has evolved and will continue to evolve one way or another. And you are wrong – the “feminist” (as you put it) women who post here are faithful – if the were not they would not care – but you see they do but your blindness prevents you from seeing it. I won’t even go into your ignorant remark about the church always being right – but remember there is a very, very, very long litany of mistakes that the Church has made on many, many, many different fronts. You can choose to disagree if you want, but it’s idiotic to think that stagnation, hypocrisy, closed-mindedness, arrogance or exclusivity have anything to do with God’s Church.

        • Andrew says:

          Oh Concerned you crack me up. The ancient Roman Empire, the Muslim invaders, the Freemasons, the Protestant reformers, the nazis and the communists are just some of those who thought they could change (destroy) the Church to accommodate their foolish, worldly ambitions. They all failed for the same reason that secular progressives are failing right now in their attempt to change the Church into utopia where women are priests, gay marriage is celebrated and whatever else the PC culture demands. The Catholic Church is from God who cannot deceive nor be deceived. You liberal CINOs have a lot to learn.

          • Recovering Catholic says:

            I guess it just took all the sexually perverted hypocritical priests and cardinals to destroy the church. For the church to survive, it needs sexually mature, normal married priests and women priests guiding it, instead of these perverted celibates who are destroying trust and credibility. Unfortunately, the all-male celibate priesthood is a psychologiclly twisted and sexually-perverted club of control freaks who think with the “wrong head.” The only bodily human organ that matters is the “heart” — not the genitalia.

          • blag says:

            There’s an ocean of difference between forcing the Catholic church to change their belief system with the threat of physical violence or war and simply disagreeing with a few tenets of the Catholic church.

            You of all people should not be calling anybody an idiot or a whatever-INO, you intelligent-person-in-name-only.

          • Donna says:

            Thank you, Andrew, for not being conformed to this world. James 4:4 Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Vs. 17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. We are in an age of apostasy. It was predicted in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. Vs. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Vs. 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. Vs 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Vs. 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. Apostasy, “falling away” is the act of professed Christians who deliberately reject revealed truth (1) as to the deity of Jesus Christ, and (2) redemption through His atoning and redeeming sacrifice. Apostates depart from the faith, but not from the outwrd profession of Christianity. Apostasy in the church, as was in Israel (Isaiah 1:5,6; 5:5-7), is irremediable, and awaits judgment (2 Thes. 2:10-12; 2 Peter 2:17, 21; Jude 11-15; Rev. 3:14-16.

            “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 3,4

            Sound familiar today?

            • Tony says:

              Donna you seem to be a bible thumping nut job of the first degree.

              • Donna says:

                Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven. Vs. ll Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Vs. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
                Thank you, Tony, for your kind words.

                • Catholic Lady says:

                  Oh come now Donna – even by a hudge stretch of the imagination Tony comments to you can not considered to be persecution.

                  • Catholic Lady says:

                    Tony, perhaps you need to think of apologizing to Donna for calling her a bible thumping nut.

                    • Tony says:

                      CL, come on, the purpose of this website in to read stories with a Catholic slant, and the comment on it, not to to read lines and lines of Scriptue from a Protestant perspective.

      • Tony says:

        Why not women priests, there is good research that there have been women in ministerial roles. But even if the Vatican denies it and they use the excuse that Jesus didn’t appoint women as apostles, so what.
        First of all he did appoint or send Mary Magdeline to announce the God news of the Resurrection to the apostles, making her an apostle to the apostle.
        And if Jesus didn’t appoint women priests, so what? He never for bade them. No where in Scripture does it say women may not be apostles.
        So what if he never ordained women, times change. He never used a toilet, does that mean we of today my not use a toilet?
        The time has come to ordain women.

        • Tony says:

          Donna, there are Bible sites we can go to if we wanted the Protestant bible solved down on throats.
          Here we usually comment on a posted story, sometimes one may quote appropriate scripture, but to rattle off the Bible to extent you do, I feel is highly inappropriate.
          Have you answered the questions I posted, like to please quote some scripture on the infallibility of the Pope or the Catholic Dogma of the assumption?

      • Ann says:

        Andrew, the church needs to evolve and change so that it too may rise from the dead on Easter Sunday!

      • blag says:

        “the Catholic Church is not some ever-evolving thing that changes to satisfy a changing world”

        Tell that to Vatican II.

    • Ann says:

      Well said Tony, very well said.

    • Larry Perssiko says:

      It sounds like what you need is Joan Chittister, O.S.B.


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