US Catholics: Give Us Hip, Young Pope

Poll finds most American Catholics think church is out of touch

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 6, 2013 8:14 AM CST

(Newser) – The last pope was installed as a 78-year-old spring chicken who wasn't cool with birth control. This time around, a majority of US Catholics think that should change. A CBS News/New York Times poll finds that 66% of American Catholics want a pope who is "younger with new ideas," compared to 26% who want to stick with someone "older with more experience." And 54% want the new pope to "change to more liberal teachings," compared to 19% who want Benedict's more traditional teachings to be continued and 18% who want someone even more conservative.

The poll found that a majority of US Catholics think the church and its bishops and cardinals are out of touch with the modern world and disconnected from modern Catholics. Exactly which issues should the new pope liberalize? A huge number say birth control: 71% think he should OK artificial birth control, and a massive 91% say he should approve of condom use to stop the spread of HIV. Another big number, 69%, say he should allow priests to get married; the same percentage favors allowing women priests; and 62% think gay marriage should be legal. But a majority of respondents still hold traditional views on some matters: 56% think the pope should continue to oppose the death penalty and abortion.

In this file picture made available on March 26, 2012 by the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI wears a Mexican sombrero hat in Leon, Mexico, Sunday, March 25, 2012.   (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano)
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