Mercoledì, 17 Ottobre 2018
VATICAN CITY

Pope's popularity transcends Catholicism in Italy

English
© ANSA

Vatican City, April 12 - Ever since he was named
pontiff one month ago and opted to present himself without the
traditional papal red cape trimmed with ermine, Pope Francis has
had no shortage of admirers drawn to his modest, down-to-earth
touch.
That popularity extends to Catholics and non-Catholics
alike in Italy, according to a new poll Friday that shows four
out of five Italians view Francis favorably.
Fully 92% of Catholics told pollsters IPR Marketing that
they found Francis to be close to the faithful, humble,
determined, appealing to the young, authoritative, and also
sincere.
About 77% of non-Catholics expressed similar positive
opinions.
Although 60% of Italians polled say they want the newly
elected pontiff to give top priority to dealing with sexual
abuse by priests, that number has fallen from one month ago,
according to the survey.
Last month, as many as 67% wanted the new pope to deal with
the long-standing problem of priest pedophilia, said the opinion
poll, which surveyed the opinions of 1,000 Italians.
Opinions may have been swayed by the new face of the
Catholic Church, who, unlike his predecessor, is seen as a
Vatican outsider with no direct involvement in the priest
sex-abuse coverups.
Benedict XVI, who abdicated in February over "declining
physical and mental strength", had directly overseen the issue
when he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith, the Church's doctrinal watchdog, before becoming
pope.
Last week, Francis pledged to maintain the same line of
"decisive" action adopted by Benedict in dealing with child sex
abuse cases in the Catholic Church.
In a meeting with Mons. Gerhard Ludwig Muller, who is in
charge of paedophilia issues in his role as prefect of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Francis said he
would "continue in the line wanted by Benedict XVI".
A Vatican statement explained that this meant "acting
decisively as regards cases of sexual abuse, promoting measures
that protect minors, above all; help for those who have suffered
such violence in the past; necessary procedures against those
found guilty; (and) the commitment of bishops' conferences in
formulating and implementing the necessary directives in this is
area that is so important for the church's witness and
credibility".
The Catholic Church has been rocked in recent years by a
long series of paedophilia scandals, most of which emerged under
Benedict's eight-year papacy, although in many cases the abuse
dates back decades and was hidden by the clergy.
In cases in countries including the United States, Ireland,
Australia, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Germany, Belgium and
Italy, the Church was found to have discouraged victims from
reporting abuse to the police.
There were also a number of documented cases of Church
authorities moving paedophile priests away from one post to
another, where they repeated their crimes with fresh victims.
Benedict's initial response to the scandals was depicted by
many as being defensive.
The former pope also personally came under fire for
allegedly failing to respond properly to several abuse cases
when he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith, the Church's doctrinal watchdog.
But he became increasingly open about sex abuse,
apologised for it and in 2010 he issued new Church instructions
on dealing with paedophile priests, making it mandatory for
cases to be reported to the police.
Benedict also prayed with abuse victims on many of his
trips overseas, including to Malta and Britain.
But the German theologian's pastoral skills have so far
been eclipsed by the warmth of Latin America's first pope, who
is proving to be something of a draw to the pews.
According to the poll Friday, 13% of Catholics in Italy
said they were attending mass more often because of his appeal.
All of this despite virtually no doctrinal differences
between him and the pope emeritus.

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