The survey of 1,000 adults, including 261 Catholics, was conducted for Newsweek magazine Thursday and Friday amid a months-long scandal over sexual abuse by priests. The pope told US cardinals meeting at the Vatican last week that pedophilia was a crime that had no place in the church.
The US Catholic Church has been shaken by disclosures that priests known to have molested children were merely transferred from parish to parish rather than defrocked. According to the poll, 82 percent of Americans thought the Church had been too lenient on pedophile priests, while just 2 percent said it had been too harsh. Eight percent felt the church’s response had been appropriate.
An unidentified clergy member agreed that the penalties were severe enough, saying, “I had to say 100 Hail Marys, 80 Our Fathers, an Act of Contrition and on top of that I was reassigned to a new parish where I had to make new ‘friends’. I tell you, It’s just plain wrong.”