While most of those polled believe Pope Francis is performing well (87%), many disagree with Church teaching about several moral issues, especially the use of contraceptives (78%). Opinions concerning other moral issues including so-called "homosexual marriage" and abortion as well as doctrinal matters such as divorce and female priests vary by region, age, geographic location, and income, indicating that what's a "hot-button" issue in one nation isn't necessarily a hot-button in another nation (or nations). To wit:
- 80% of Catholics in Africa and 76% in the Philippines support the ban on female priests, but only 30% in Europe and 36% in the United States.
- Opposition to so-called "homosexual marriage" in Africa is 99%, compared with 40% in the United States. 5% more women, 18% more young people, and 10% more upper- and upper middle- class members are in favor compared to their counterparts.
- The most liberal Catholics live in Spain, France, Argentina, and Brazil. The most conservative Catholics live in Africa and the Philippines.
For The Motley Monk, the poll's most significant finding was that those who most likely to support Church morals and doctrine are married men and women 55 years and older, who attend mass frequently, and live in rural areas. This finding parallels what occurred in France in the two and one-half centuries following the Counter-Reformation. As Karen E. Carter discussed in her most interesting book, Creating Catholics: Catechism and Primary Education in Early Modern France, while France's urban centers---especially Paris---became increasingly secularized, the dioceses in rural, northern France adopted and adapted the Tridentine reforms and over the next 250 years preserved the Church in France.
Church history also teaches that it was also during this time that a number of Saints arose in the rural, northern French Catholic Church. These women and men formed religious congregations whose evangelical witness had a significant influence upon the formation of the next generation of Catholics, not just in rural, northern France but more so in the United States through the vehicle of Catholic schools, hospitals, and social service agencies.
The poll's finding that those who most likely to support Church morals and doctrine are married men and women 55 years and older, who attend mass frequently, and live in rural areas could be interpreted to mean that the Church is dying. In Europe and the United States, the Church certainly is declining in urban and suburban locales. But, if history---especially Church history--is instructive, it will be those folks living in rural locales like Lincoln, Nebraska---who will be the ones who produce the Saints whose evangelical witness will keep the Catohlic faith alive and expand its influence in the United States over the next 250 years.
Let the discussion begin...
To study the Univision poll, an interactive website is available. Click on the following link:
To check out Kathy E. Carter's book, click on the following link: