Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Survey Says: "We Want Fluffy"

While next month's PopeTrip won't be without its challenges in the court of public opinion, Benedict & Co. can take comfort in a freshly-released survey finding that interest in the pontiff's impending Stateside trek is high and positive.

Funded by a grant from the Knights of Columbus -- the global church's largest organization of Catholic laymen -- and conducted by Marist College, the results were unveiled Tuesday afternoon at a DC press conference.

Just over 1,000 American adults and a separate sampling of 600 US Catholics were polled; margin of error set at +/- 3.1%.
By a ratio of four and a half to one (58% to 13%), respondents said that they had a favorable or very favorable view of Pope Benedict. The poll also found that an even higher percentage -- 65% -- have a favorable view of the Catholic Church, although a higher portion, 28% have a negative view.

Forty-two percent of Americans said that they would like to attend one of the Popes public appearances while he is in the United States, and 66% of Catholics said they'd like to attend one of the events....

Seventy percent or more want to hear Pope Benedict talk about: allowing God to be a part of their daily lives (73%), finding spiritual fulfillment by sharing their time and talent (71%) and how they can make a positive difference in the world, their state, and communities (70%). Nearly two-thirds (64%) expressed an interest in hearing Pope Benedict talk about how they can have a society where spiritual values play an important role.
While the Knights also rolled out a new website -- -- to plug the pilgrimage, yesterday's event coincided with the pub-date of a new book by the 1.7 million-member group's head, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.

Arguably the most influential American Catholic in the Vatican's orbit thanks to the KofC's magic at marshalling manpower and resources in the service of the Holy See's mission, Anderson's A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World focuses on the lay vocation in the secular sphere and the universal call to holiness, the combination of which are expected to form a key thread of Benedict's April message on these shores. (More on that later.) Before a stop in Rome, the book will be presented later today in New York, with Archbishop Celestino Migliore -- the Holy See's UN observer... and the Pope's Manhattan host -- topping the lineup for the panel event at the global body's headquarters.

Once an operative in the Reagan White House, the 57 year-old top knight serves as a consultant to four Vatican dicasteries: the Pontifical Councils for the Laity, the Family, Justice and Peace, and Social Communications. Anderson has also been named to two Synods of Bishops.

For those of you keeping score at home, not even most cardinals get a Roman roster like that.