Pope Francis and the Great Catholic Divide

March 21, 2014 • Family Planning, Reproductive Health, News

Pope Francis and the Great Catholic Divide
Perhaps more than any other pope in modern times, Pope Francis has done much to unify and reinvigorate the Catholic faith, but as he approaches the first anniversary of his ascendancy to the papacy, he still confronts a great divide. As confirmed by a recent international poll of 12,000 Catholics in 12 countries, many Catholics do not embrace the church’s teachings on family planning. Many, in fact, hope that Pope Francis will relax, if not reverse, the church’s longstanding opposition to the use of modern contraceptives.

The poll, which was conducted by Bendixen and Amandi International for Univision, found that support for family planning among Catholics is high, particularly in Europe and the Western Hemisphere. In five of the 12 countries that were surveyed, including the pope’s homeland of Argentina, nine out of 10 Catholics support the use of contraceptives. (The other four countries were Columbia, Brazil, Spain, and France.) In America, the poll found that nearly eight out of 10 Catholics (79 percent) were in opposition to church teachings on contraception.

If nothing else, Pope Francis is prepared to listen to concerns about family planning. Last fall the Vatican announced plans to gather information in preparation for the October 2014 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” The survey instrument, which was disseminated to dioceses around the world, asked Catholics to make known their views with respect to family planning, along with abortion, divorce, gay marriage and other issues affecting modern family life.

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