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ABC News/Washington Post Catholic Church in Crisis Poll, March 2002

Resource Type
Dataset : survey data
  • ABC News
  • The Washington Post
Other Title
  • Archival Version (Subtitle)
Collective Title
  • ABC News/Washington Post Poll Series
Publication Date
Free Keywords
attitudes; Catholic Church; Catholic priests; Catholics; child abuse; policies and procedures; public opinion; religious attitudes; religious behavior; sanctions
  • Abstract

    This special topic poll was designed to ascertain the feelings and opinions respondents surveyed about the recent scandals within the Catholic Church concerning the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests. Those surveyed were asked to describe their views toward the Catholic Church, specifically whether they endorsed the Roman Catholic Church policies that priests cannot get married and that women cannot become priests, whether they agreed with the way the Catholic Church has dealt with the issue of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, whether such abuse is common, whether the Catholic Church was taking the proper actions to deal with the issue, whether this issue had hurt the overall reputation of the Catholic Church in their eyes, and if so, by how much. Respondents were asked if they believed Catholic priests were more likely than other men to sexually abuse children, and if the following policies and practices were part of the problem: not allowing priests to marry, not allowing women to be priests, transferring priests accused of sexual abuse to another parish, not calling the police when a priest was accused of sexual abuse, being reluctant to dismiss priests because of a shortage of priests, or the lack of Vatican oversight of the Catholic Church in the United States. Persons queried were asked whether they approved of transferring a priest who had been accused of sexually abusing a child to another parish without telling parishioners about the accusation, whether the Church should inform parishioners and/or the police about such charges, and whether the Church should be required to do this by law. Respondents were then questioned about their overall opinions on how the Church had handled the issue, as well as their knowledge of instances in which a Catholic priest had been accused of sexually abusing children in their community, or instances in which friends or relatives had been abused by a Catholic priest. Persons of the Catholic faith were asked how satisfied they were with the leadership provided by their parish priest or priests, their bishop, and the Pope, whether the church effectively involved lay people in deciding church policies, and whether they approved of the way their parish priest or priests, their bishop, and the national leaders of the Catholic Church had handled the issue of sexual abuse of children by priests. Catholic respondents were also asked whether their diocese should publicly report the amount of money paid to settle lawsuits against priests accused of sexually abusing children, if their diocese should publicly release the names of priests who had been accused of sexually abusing children, whether the issue of sexual abuse of children by priests had caused them to alter the amount of money they gave to the Church in donations, if this issue had caused them to reexamine their personal faith, if they were aware of any priests in their own parish that have been accused of sexually abusing children, whether there was a chance that they would leave the Roman Catholic Church, how likely they were to leave, and if their leaving was motivated in some way by the issue of sexual abuse by priests. Non-Catholic persons were asked if they were aware of any clergy within their religious congregation that had been accused of sexually abusing children. Additionally, all persons queried were asked whether they approved of the way President George W. Bush was handling his job. Background information on respondents includes age, gender, education, religion, frequency of attendance at religious services, race, and Hispanic origin.
  • Methods

    ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection: Created online analysis version with question text..
  • Table of Contents


Temporal Coverage
  • Time period: 2002-03
  • 2002-03-25 / 2002-03-28
    Collection date: 2002-03-25--2002-03-28
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Sampled Universe
Persons aged 18 and over living in households with telephones in the contiguous 48 United States.
Households were selected by random-digit dialing. Within households, the respondent selected was the adult living in the household who last had a birthday and who was at home at the time of interview.
Collection Mode
  • (1) The data are provided as an SPSS portable file. (2) Additional information about sampling, interviewing, weighting, and sampling error may be found in the codebook. (3) This collection has not been processed by ICPSR staff. ICPSR is distributing the data and documentation for this collection in essentially the same form in which they were received. When appropriate, documentation has been converted to Portable Document Format (PDF), data files have been converted to non- platform-specific formats, and variables have been recoded to ensure respondents' anonymity. (4) The codebook is provided by ICPSR as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Web site.

This version of the study is no longer available on the web. If you need to acquire this version of the data, you have to contact ICPSR User Support (
Alternative Identifiers
  • 3432 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Is previous version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR03432.v1

Update Metadata: 2015-08-05 | Issue Number: 6 | Registration Date: 2015-06-15

ABC News; The Washington Post (2002): ABC News/Washington Post Catholic Church in Crisis Poll, March 2002. Archival Version. ABC News/Washington Post Poll Series. Version: v0. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.