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Monday, April 04, 2005

Americans Loved John Paul II, But are Open to Change

This weekend's big story -- and the big story for the next few weeks, barring a global crisis of some kind -- was the death of Pope John Paul II, his pending funeral, and the subsequent election of a new pontiff. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll has found that while both US Catholics and non-Catholics hold John Paul in the highest esteem, many would like to see the next pope change things. And, as with so many things Americans feel strongly about these days, the respondents are divided over what kind of change they'd like to see.

The respondents strongly agreed (90%) that John Paul will go down as either a great or one of the greatest popes ever; 71% of the Catholics surveyed said that he would likely be made into a saint.

However, although nearly 60% said that they would like to see the next pope take theological stands similar to those of John Paul, a third would like to see a more liberal pope. Only 4% said they'd like to see the next pope be more conservative.

Majorities of those surveyed said the next pope should take more liberal positions on birth control, stem cell research and permitting priests to marry. Respondents were almost evenly split on the issues of divorce and allowing women to be priests. The one issue on which the respondents clearly supported John Paul's position was abortion.

The respondents overwhelmingly said that they would support a pope who came from Africa, Asia or Latin America -- regions in which the Catholic Church is growing rapidly, and regions that will likely influence the Church heavily over the coming years.

RELATED: The Pope Blog, MSNBC and New Zealand-based Catholic Communications are blogging the passing of John Paul II and upcoming events at the Vatican. Also...
UPDATE: Amid the seemingly endless media celebrations of the life of Pope John Paul II comes this contrarian piece from the National Review. Also, Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine suggests that the attention that TV news has given to the story has approached overkill, noting that the global media have devoted 10 times as much print space and airtime to the death of John Paul than to the re-election of President Bush.

Source: CNN.com