Action Alert!

A Pew survey result that tells us...nothing

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Oct 24, 2013

“Three-quarters of U.S. Catholics support pope’s Vatican reform,” reads the headline on a Pew Research Center report. That’s nice. But not 1% of American Catholics know what the Pope’s reforms will be, since he hasn’t announced them yet.

Read a bit more closely, and you learn that 75% of those surveyed thought that “reform”—which might mean different things to different people—should be a priority for the Pope. That’s a very different message. Saying that you see a need for reform is not the same as saying that you support a particular program for reform.

But here’s another twist: The Pew story is based on a poll taken in March—which, you may recall, is when Pope Francis was elected. Maybe you have a general idea of the Pope’s reform plans now, but in March, nobody had a clue.

So what is it, exactly, that we learned from the Pew story?


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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