Most Catholics loyal despite sex abuse scandal

NEW YORK Tue Jun 1, 2010 4:06pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - The sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church has not shaken the faith of most U.S. Catholics, according to a new poll.

Only 12 percent, or one out of eight Roman Catholics, is reevaluating ties to the church following reports of child sexual abuse, the 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair survey showed.

The number was similar among members of all faiths in the United States, in contrast to Germany, where about a quarter of German Catholics were considering leaving the church over the abuse allegations.

In recent months, child abuse allegations against Catholic priests have roiled Europe, forcing resignations of bishops in Ireland, Belgium and Germany, in the biggest crisis in Benedict's five-year pontificate.

Pope Benedict met victims of abuse by priests during his April 2008 visit to the United States. The U.S. church has paid $2 billion in settlements to victims since 1992.

The poll of 855 adults, including 178 Roman Catholics, also showed that more Americans than before, 45 percent compared to 41 percent in 2009, believed that killings carried out by the CIA are "sometimes justified."

But less than third knew who directed the U.S. military.

When asked what profession came to mind when they heard the name of Robert M. Gates, 36 percent said "computer pioneer," apparently confusing the name of the defense secretary with that of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, one of the world's wealthiest men.

Only 29 percent knew Robert M. Gates was a Cabinet member.

When asked what they would advise their younger self if they could go back in time, 45 percent of people who participated in the poll said, "Take school seriously," followed by "Eat better."

Forty-five percent of Americans said cable TV was the most overpriced item, while 22 percent said a movie ticket, followed by a baseball ticket (17 percent), a pair of jeans (12 percent) and cocktails at a bar or restaurant (9 percent).

On a lighter note, thirty-seven percent of men said they would like to be Indiana Jones in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" for a day, while Carrie Bradshaw, of "Sex and the City" fame drew the highest response at 19 percent of women.

More women, 11 percent, than men, 10 percent, wanted to step into the shoes of the "Godfather" Don Corleone.

(Reporting by Walker Simon; Editing by Patricia Reaney)

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