Gallup Poll Finds that Catholics Still Desire Accountability for Clergy Scandals

( [email protected] ) Nov 08, 2003 08:15 AM EST

The Gallup poll conducted on over 300 parishioners, found a general call for “greater accountability in the Catholic Church in the wake of its sexual-abuse crises” as well as a change in attitude toward local bishops.

The survey, carried out in October by the Gallup Organization, polled the same Catholics who answered some of the same questions in a similar survey last year.

Of those polled, nearly 230 agreed that the Catholic Church needed greater financial accountability for the repercussions of the clergy sexual abuse crisis. Nearly half of the people also said however, that they felt the bishops were doing a good job in handling the scandal. Most also said they had not reduced donations to their parishes or local dioceses and bishops.

"They're blaming the bishops as a group rather than their own individual bishop," said Francis J. Butler, president of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, an association of philanthropists, which commissioned the survey.

"They're making distinctions, cutting contributions to things that originate at the bishops conference, whereas things that originate at the diocese or the parish get a more positive reaction," Mr. Butler said in an interview.

Msgr. Francis Maniscalco, a spokesman for the conference, said that while some fund-raising appeals by the national church showed a slight drop in donations last year, others had slight increases. Among the national collections are the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Catholic Communications Collection and the American Bishops Overseas Appeal, Monsignor Maniscalco said.

The bishops have commissioned a study to find the extent of sexual abuse in the church and how much dioceses paid in settlements and legal fees. That study should be released in February, Monsignor Maniscalco added.

"The bishops are open to greater accountability," he said, "and they are in agreement with the laity that it is important to the church."