Most Canadians favour female, married priests
National Post, Saturday, July 20, 2002
Canadian Catholics are seriously at odds with their church on key issues, ranging from the celibacy of priests to birth control and ordaining women, a new National Post/Ottawa Citizen/Global News poll suggests on the eve of what is likely to be the Pope’s last visit to this country.
As thousands of young Catholics from around the world also begin to converge on Toronto, the survey portrays a stark divide between the doctrine of the huge Christian denomination and the opinions of its members here.
COMPAS Inc. interviewed 451 Catholic-born Canadians and converts across the country. The vast majority — 82% — said priests should be allowed to marry, which the Church forbids. Almost as many said women should be allowed into the priesthood.
A little more than 70% said people should be able to remarry in the Church after being divorced, which isn’t allowed now unless the divorced person has obtained an annulment.
Just under 70% favoured abandoning the Church’s ban on birth control and about the same number said lay people should have a say in the Catholic liturgy and in the appointment of parish priests and local bishops.
Forty-eight per cent of respondents said they were still “believing” Catholics, 39% said they were lapsed, 10% said they were no longer Catholics and 3% had converted to the religion.
They attended church on average 17 times a year and confession twice.
The Church considers such surveys important and does pay heed to them, but more as a chance to debate the issues and better get across its message than to rethink basic traditions, said Monseigneur Peter Schonenbach, general-secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
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