Catholics support Francis, but many split on teachings: poll

Posted at 02/09/2014 11:44 PM | Updated as of 02/09/2014 11:44 PM

WASHINGTON - Catholics believe Pope Francis is doing a good job, but many disagree with Church doctrine on hot-button issues, especially contraceptives, according to a global poll out on Sunday.

The survey by the US-based Spanish-language network Univision of Catholics in 12 countries found that those most likely to support Church teachings are married men and women 55 years and older who attend mass frequently and live in rural areas.

For the rest, opinions on issues such as gay marriage, abortion, divorce and female priests vary by region, age, geographic location and income.

According to the poll, 87 percent of Catholics believe that Francis is doing a good or excellent job as his papacy reaches its first anniversary in March.

Yet 78 percent favor using contraceptives, a violation of Church doctrine.

On other issues there are marked regional differences: for example 80 percent of Catholics in Africa and 76 percent in the Philippines support the ban on female priests, but only 30 percent in Europe and 36 percent in the United States are in favor.

The most controversial subject is gay marriage: opposition to such unions is overwhelming in Africa at 99 percent, compared with 40 percent in the United States.

"On average, five percent more women, 18 percent more young people and 10 percent more upper and upper middle class members are in favor of gay marriage compared to their counterparts," the pollsters said.

Catholics in Spain -- which for centuries enforced Church doctrine through the Holy Inquisition -- are among the most liberal in the world, according to the survey, along with those in France.

Catholics in Africa and the Philippines are the most conservative, while those in Argentina and Brazil are mostly liberal.

The poll by Bendixen & Amandi International for Univision surveyed 12,036 Catholics in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, France, Italy, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Uganda and the United States.

The countries represent 61 percent of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, and pollsters say the survey has a 0.9 percent overall margin of error.

An interactive presentation of the poll is available at http://www.univision.com/interactivos/openpage/2014-02-06/la-voz-del-pue...

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