SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Approval ratings for America's Roman Catholic bishops have declined over the past 18 months, likely over how they handled priests who sexually abused children, a new survey has found.
The poll of U.S. Catholics released May 9 found 59 percent strongly or somewhat agreed that the prelates were doing a good job leading the church, compared to 83 percent in the fall of 2001.
Nearly all of the respondents to the survey conducted by Le Moyne College, a Jesuit school in Syracuse, N.Y., and the research firm Zogby International wanted Pope John Paul II to discipline bishops who failed to remove offenders from church work.
The abuse crisis erupted in January 2002 in the Archdiocese of Boston and quickly spread throughout the United States, revealing that many bishops had failed to discipline guilty priests and had kept them in parish jobs where they had access to children.
Regarding the pope, more than 80 percent of respondents gave him high marks for job performance. Fifty-three percent agreed with his opposition to the U.S.-led war on Iraq.
The poll of 1,500 American Catholics was conducted April 23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent.
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