U.S. Catholics divided on path for church

Feb. 21, 2013 at 3:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. Catholics appear divided on the direction they would like the church to take under a new pope, a Pew Research Center survey indicates.

As Pope Benedict XVI prepares to leave his post next year, 46 percent of American Catholics say they would like to see the next pope move the church in new directions, while 51 percent say they want the new pope to maintain the traditional positions of the church.

Among Catholics who attend Mass at least once a week, 63 percent want the new pope to hold steady on church traditions.

In response to an open-ended question, about one-in-five U.S. Catholics who think the next pope should move the church in new directions say the church should become more modern. Fourteen percent of that group said priests should be allowed to marry and 9 percent said women should be allowed to serve in the priesthood.

Six-in-10 U.S. Catholics said it would be good if the next pope hails from a developing region like South America, Asia or Africa.

The report by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life, published Thursday on Pew's website, is based on two national surveys conducted Feb. 13-18 among 1,504 adults, including 304 Catholics, and Feb. 14-17 among 1,003 adults, including 212 Catholics.

The report included no margin of error.

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