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Opposition to Bishops’ Politicking Pervasive Among Catholics

July 1, 2004

A new poll from Catholics for a Free Choice reveals Catholics are united against the Catholic bishops’ political actions.

WASHINGTON , DC —In a year when the bishops have launched an unprecedented foray into the political arena, a new poll demonstrates that the vast majority of Catholics (83%) say they DO NOT believe that politicians who are Catholic have a religious obligation to vote on issues the way Catholic bishops recommend.

Catholic support for dissent from bishops’ recommendations is pervasive. Eighty-three percent of men and 82% of women DO NOT feel that Catholic politicians are obliged to vote in line with the bishops’ positions; nor do whites (85%), Hispanics (74%), Democrats (90%), Republicans (74%), and Independents (86%). Even Catholics who attend mass at least once a week and who “almost always” receive communion say Catholic politicians do not have an obligation to vote on issues the way the bishops recommend (73%). Among church-going Catholics who believe that Catholic politicians have no religious obligation:

  • 91% of self-identified liberals
  • 81% of self-identified moderates
  • 59% of self-identified conservatives

More than three quarters of Catholic voters (78%) DO NOT believe that politicians who are Catholic and who support legal abortion should be denied communion, including men (77%), women (78%), whites (78%), Hispanics (73%), Democrats (90%), Republicans (63%) and Independents (83%). Among frequent church attendees opposed to using the sacraments for sanctions of prochoice Catholic politicians:

  • 91% of liberals
  • 72% of moderates
  • 48% of conservatives

Four in ten Catholic voters (39%) say they attend church at least once a week.

The complete poll will be released Tuesday, July 13. It is the largest and most statistically significant poll available of Catholic opinions on 2004 election issues and recent actions of the US bishops. From June 2-10, 2004, prominent DC polling firm Belden Russonello and Stewart surveyed 2,239 Catholics, including 366 Hispanic Catholics. The survey has a ±2.1 percentage-point margin of error.

Catholics in Political Life: Challenges to Faith in Democracy is a project of Catholics for a Free Choice designed toreveal insights into the motivations of Catholic voters as they consider the choices in the presidential campaign and to analyze how Catholics respond to the role of the Catholic hierarchy in the elections. Tomorrow: the Hispanic Catholic vote and Bush’s Hispanic problem. To obtain a copy of the results, please contact Michelle Ringuette at (202) 986-6093.