A New York Times/CBS News poll released today shows that the wishes of many Catholics go directly against the doctrines of the faith:
Laurie Goodstein and Megan Thee-Brenan summarize the results this way:
On every other hotly debated issue, Catholics wanted the next pope to lead the church in an about-face. Seven out of every 10 Catholics surveyed said the next pope should let priests marry, let women become priests and allow the use of artificial methods of birth control. Nine out of 10 said they wanted the next pope to allow the use of condoms to prevent the spread of H.I.V. and other diseases.
Sixty-two percent of Catholics said they were in favor of legalizing marriage for same-sex couples. Catholics approved of same-sex marriage at a higher rate than Americans as a whole, among whom 53 percent approved.
You have to wonder: If all these people believe the Catholic Church is heading in the wrong direction, in so many different areas, why stay in the Church?
The most telling question in the poll may have been this one: “On difficult moral questions, which are you more likely to follow — the teachings of the Pope, or your conscience?”
If you’re Catholic, this should be simple: You follow the person who has a direct line to God, right?
Apparently, that’s not the case at all. Here’s the breakdown of Catholics who would follow the teachings of the Pope in difficult situations:
Wow. The Pope has a lower approval rating than Congress.
No wonder he resigned. When even Catholics don’t really care about what the man who’s supposed to be their leader says, it’s time to go. (Though I wonder if those numbers are more of a reflection on Joseph Ratzinger or the title of “Pope” itself.)
When you read the article, one idea isn’t stated but still shines through: If Catholics really want the Church to change direction, the best way to make the point isn’t going to be staying on the inside — the members of the Catholic hierarchy have made it very clear they don’t care about what their followers want.
The best solution for Catholics is to walk away and not look back.
They must stop giving the Church money.
They must stop sending their kids to Catholic schools.
They must stop attending Mass.
They can still believe in God without lending support to a corrupt, wicked system.
As the saying goes, “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it was never meant to be.”
At the same time, we need to offer Catholics a better way out. If they like tradition, there needs to be a secular alternative. It’s naïve to think Catholics will leave the Church when there’s nothing else waiting for them.
But for Catholics who just go because it’s what they’ve always done, there’s no excuse. By calling yourself a Catholic, you’re implicitly saying you support Catholicism, warts and all.
The poll shows that many Catholics are better, more compassionate people than their leaders. And a new Pope chosen by the current group of cardinals isn’t going to change that.