Growing Percentage of U.S. Catholics Rethinking Their Commitment after Abuse Scandal


Growing Percentage of U.S. Catholics Rethinking Their Commitment after Abuse Scandal

More Catholics are questioning their membership and participation in the church after heavily publicized sexual abuse scandals. Thirty-seven percent of Catholics in the United States say they have been questioning whether or not they would stay in the church after details of the abuse and cover-up became public. 

Gallup interviewed 581 U.S. Catholics from January 21-27 and February 12-28. This was the first time they had asked U.S. Catholics about their commitment to the church since The Boston Globe’s reports of abuse in the Boston area and the lengths leaders at all levels went to so they could keep the abuse quiet.

In 2002, twenty-two percent of U.S. Catholics said yes to the question, “As a result of the recent news about sexual abuse of young people by priests, have you, personally, questioned whether you would remain in the Catholic church, or not?” That number rose by fifteen percent in 2019. In 2002, seventy-six percent of U.S. Catholics said they had not considered leaving, while it dropped to sixty-two percent in 2019. 

In reporting their findings, Gallup said it was “unclear whether Catholics who are questioning their church membership will actually decide to leave the church. Many Catholics may consider leaving the church but ultimately decide not to do so, or they may have no intention of leaving but simply be responding to this…

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