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Archbishop Mounts Bully Pulpit, But Who’s Listening?

October 30, 2000

Survey shows most Catholics oppose politicking by church leaders

New York—Archbishop Edward Egan, in a letter read to parishioners before masses last weekend, made sweeping statements that failed to take into account the unique diversity of Catholic voters.  By calling on parishioners to vote in favor of candidates who “share our commitment to fundamental rights for the unborn,” the archbishop ignored the fact that polls show time and time again that Catholics support legal abortion, regardless of what the church hierarchy says.

A recent Belden Russonello & Stewart national survey of 1,003 likely Catholic voters conducted for Catholics for a Free Choice shows that Catholic voters are more likely to call themselves pro-choice (58%) than pro-life (41%), and a strong majority of Catholic voters believe abortion should be legal (66%).  In fact, a full seven in ten (70%) Catholic voters do not believe that Catholics have a religious obligation to vote for candidates who oppose legal abortion.

CFFC President Frances Kissling noted, “While the views of religious leaders are interesting, the big question is: Who is actually listening?”  Only 5% of Catholic voters said the views of the U.S. Catholic bishops are very important in deciding for whom to vote in the coming election, while 75% said the bishops’ views were unimportant.  “If Archbishop Egan is attempting to influence Catholic voters,” Kissling continued, “he is on a road to nowhere.  Catholics in the pews are much more sophisticated than either the archbishop or political pundits give them credit for.”  The CFFC survey also shows that seven in ten (70%) Catholics do not believe the Catholic bishops should use the political arena to advance their moral opinions, and six in ten (59%) oppose the Catholic bishops making public statements regarding candidates for office.


To view complete poll results: