On Tuesday the Knights of Columbus published the results of a survey they commissioned on American’s opinions about the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI and their hopes for the papal visit to the United States in April.
The survey results show that Americans have a generally positive opinion of the Pope and the Catholic Church. Most hope that during his visit Pope Benedict will address the place of spiritual values in ordinary life.
Fifty-eight percent of the United States residents polled have a “favorable” or “very favorable” opinion of Benedict XVI, while 13 percent have an “unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinion of the Pope.
Seventeen percent of the respondents claim to have never heard of the Pope.
Sixty-five percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Catholic Church, while 28 percent have an unfavorable view. The Church is especially popular among Latinos, people over age 60, and people who attend religious services once a week.
The majority of Americans (63%) also think the Catholic Church contributes “a great deal” or “a good amount” to people and communities in the United States. Twenty-four percent believe the Church contributes “not very much” or “nothing at all.”
Knowledge of Pope Benedict amongst Americans remains a scarce commodity with 52 percent saying they do not know very much about Pope Benedict, and 29 percent saying they know nothing at all about him. Only 19 percent claim to know “a good amount” or “a great deal” about the Pope.
Forty-two percent of Americans, compared with 66 percent of Catholics, say they would like to attend one of the Pope’s public appearances in his upcoming U.S. visit.
According to the survey results, 70 percent or more Americans want to hear the Pope address in his visit how they can allow God to be a part of their daily lives, how they can find spiritual fulfillment by sharing their time and talent, and how they can make a positive difference in the world, their state, and their communities.
Sixty-four percent of Americans expressed interest in hearing Pope Benedict discuss how to create a society where spiritual values play an important role.
The survey found that Catholics “closely mirror” the rest of the American population in age, marital status, education level, income, and voter registration. They are more likely to live in the Northeast, which has 30 percent of the nation’s Catholics, and less likely to live in the South, which has only 25 percent of the nation’s Catholics.
The survey, conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, queried 1,015 adult United States residents and interviewed 613 U.S. Catholics nationwide.