Ipsos

Ipsos

April 13, 2010 06:01 ET

At Least 2 Million Adult Canadians (8%) Personally Know Someone Sexu

8% of Roman Catholics Aware of a Priest in their Parish or Neighbourhood Charged with Sexual Assault. Majority (58%) of Canadians, Catholics (54%) Believe Allegations Pope Benedict Perpetuated Climate

Attention: Lifestyle Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ON--(Marketwire - April 13, 2010) - Toronto, ON - An astonishing one in ten (8% of Canadians, 7% of Roman Catholics) Canadians aged 18 or older, representing roughly 2 million adults, indicate that they are personally aware of someone among their family, friends or acquaintances who has been sexually assaulted by a Roman Catholic priest, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of Canwest News Service and Global Television.

To put this shocking number into perspective, 2 million Canadians is roughly equivalent to the entire population living in the Greater Metropolitan city of Vancouver admitting that they personally know someone sexually abused by a Roman Catholic priest.

Furthermore, nearly one in ten Canadian Roman Catholics (8% of Roman Catholics, 6% of Canadians,) say that they are personally aware of a priest in their parish or neighbourhood who has been charged with sexual assault.

The poll comes at a time as the Roman Catholic Church worldwide has been rocked by accusations of priests sexually abusing children and teenagers, and that Bishops and Cardinals have been complicit in turning a blind eye to these allegations by either not reporting known or suspected abuser priests to local law-enforcement authorities or by shuffling priests from parish to parish or to another diocese in order to keep the matter 'in-house'.

Such accusations are not new. What is new is that they are now being levelled at the leader of the Catholic Church suggesting that Pope Benedict XVI himself "perpetuated a climate of silence and cover up" around pedophile and hebephile priests when he was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, a senior Cardinal at the Vatican in Rome. The Pope is also accused of failing to act against three abusive priests in the U.S. who were brought to his attention when he headed the Vatican's Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the office responsible for disciplining priests and there have been questions raised about his role as Archbishop of a German archdiocese and that of a priest who was convicted a few years later in Bavaria of sexual abuse.

Just before Easter mass started recently in St. Peter's Square, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals and the Vatican's former secretary of state turned to the seated Pontiff in front of throngs of worshipers and said "Holy Father, on your side are the people of God, who do not let themselves be influenced by the petty gossip of the moment, by the trials that sometimes strike at the community of believers". This proclamation followed what the Vatican's newspaper has called "gross propaganda" against the Pope.

On this point, a majority (58%) of Canadians overall - and a majority (54%) of Canadian Roman Catholics - believe these most recent allegations are true and that Pope Benedict has 'perpetuated a climate of silence and cover up around pedophile and hebephile priests'. Conversely, only three in ten (29%) Canadians overall and four in ten (37%) Roman Catholics more closely believe that 'the Pope is being unfairly targeted by "gross propaganda" and "petty gossip"'. One in ten (13% of Canadians, 9% of Roman Catholics) are unsure of which position more closely reflects their belief.

Two thirds (64%) of Canadians and a majority of Catholics (55%) are 'not satisfied' with what the Roman Catholic church has been doing in routing out any predatory pedophiles in among its priests. Just 29% of Canadians and 42% of Catholics are 'satisfied' with what the church has been doing in this regard.

A majority of Canadians (55%) and Roman Catholics (57%) are 'satisfied' with the job local Canadian police forces and the justice system in investigating and dealing with issues related to accusations of priests and sexual assault. (But it should be noted that the intensity of 'satisfaction' is very low: only 14% of Canadians and 19% of Roman Catholics are 'very satisfied' with the job local Canadian police forces and the justice system is doing.) This compares identically to 41% of Canadians and 41% of Roman Catholics who are 'not satisfied' with the job local Canadian police forces and the justice system is doing.

Seven in ten (69%) of Canadians overall and 80% of Roman Catholics believe that pedophiles within the Roman Catholic Priest population represent 'a small number who are giving the Church an unfair and bad reputation'. This compares with two in ten (23% of Canadians and 17% of Roman Catholics) who believe that pedophiles are very numerous within the priest population. One in ten (8% of Canadians, 3% of Roman Catholics) are unsure.

These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of Canwest News Service and Global Television from April 6 to 8, 2010. For the survey, a representative randomly-selected sample of 1,003 adult Canadians was interviewed by telephone. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ± 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult population of Canada been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were weighted to ensure that the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

One in 10 (8%) Personally Aware of Someone Sexually Abused by a Roman Catholic Priest…

While 8% of Canadians and 7% of Roman Catholics say they are personally aware of someone in their family, friends or acquaintances that has been sexually assaulted by a Roman Catholic Priest, the incidence is higher among some demographics than others:

Those currently living in British Columbia (11%), Atlantic Canada (10%), Quebec (9%) and Alberta (8%) are more likely than those living in Ontario (6%) or Saskatchewan and Manitoba (3%) to say they know someone who has been sexually abused by a priest

Those aged 55+ are most likely (11%) to say they personally know someone who was been abused by a Roman Catholic priest while Canadians aged 35 to 54 (8%) or 18 to 34 (4%) are significantly less likely to say so

Those in rural communities are slightly more likely (10%) than those in an urban setting (7%) to say they know someone who has been sexually abused by a priest

Women (9%) and men (7%) are almost equally as likely to say that they know someone

Those with less than $30,000 income are the most likely to indicate that they know someone in their family, friends or acquaintances who have been sexually assaulted by a Roman Catholic priest (12%)

Atlantic Canadians Most Likely Aware Of a Roman Catholic Priest in Their Parish or Neighbourhood Who's Been Charged With Sexual Assault…

Six percent (6%) of Canadians and eight percent (8%) of Roman Catholics are personally aware of a Roman Catholic priest in their parish or neighbourhood who has been charged with sexual assault, however:

Atlantic Canadians (13%) are by far the most likely to say they know of a priest in their parish or neighbourhood who has been charged, while those in Ontario (7%), Quebec (7%), B.C. (5%), Alberta (2%) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (2%) are less likely to say so

Once again, older Canadians (10%) are more likely than middle-aged (7%) or younger Canadians (1%) to say they know of a priest in their area that has been charged with sexual assault

Belief in Accusations against Pontiff runs Highest in Quebec, Canada's Most Catholic Province…

A majority (58%) of Canadians overall - and a majority (54%) of Canadian Roman Catholics - believe the most recent allegations that Pope Benedict has 'perpetuated a climate of silence and cover up around pedophile and hebephile priests' are true. Conversely, only three in ten (29%) Canadians overall and four in ten (37%) Roman Catholics more closely believe that 'the Pope is being unfairly targeted by "gross propaganda" and "petty gossip"'. One in ten (13% of Canadians, 9% of Roman Catholics) are unsure of which position more closely reflects their belief.

Belief in the recent allegations against Pope Benedict varies significantly across Canada and among various groups of Canadians:

Among all Canadians, Quebecers (68%) are most likely to believe the recent allegations are true, followed by those living in British Columbia (62%), Ontario (57%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (53%), Alberta (49%), and Atlantic Canada (46%)

Older Canadians (55+ @ 65%, 35-54 @ 59%) are more likely than younger Canadians (18-34 @ 50%) to believe the recent allegations are true

There is no real gender difference in the believe that the recent allegations are true (women @ 59%, men @ 57%)

Urban Canadians (59%) are slightly more likely than rural Canadians (55%) to believe that the recent allegations are true

Those with the most education (66%) and the most income (61%) are most likely to believe that the recent allegations are true

Pedophile Priests: Small Number or Numerous?

A majority of Canadians (69%) and Roman Catholics (80%) believe that there is actually 'just a small number of pedophile priests in the Roman Catholic priest population who are giving the Church an unfair and bad reputation'. One quarter (23%) of Canadians and one in five Roman Catholics (17%) believes that 'pedophiles are very numerous within the Roman Catholic priest population'. Some are more likely to believe this than others:

Residents of Ontario (27%) and Atlantic Canada (27%) are the most likely to believe that pedophiles are very numerous within the ranks of the Roman Catholic priesthood, while those living in British Columbia (23%), Quebec (22%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (20%) and Alberta (13%) are less likely to think so

Older Canadians (27%) are more likely than middle aged (24%) and younger Canadians (18%) to believe that pedophiles in the priesthood are very numerous. Women (26%) are more likely than men (21%) to believe the number of pedophiles among priests is numerous, along with those in urban Canada (24%) versus rural Canada (21%)

As for Roman Catholics who believe that pedophiles are very numerous in the priesthood (17%), they are more likely to be from Québec (21%) and Atlantic Canada (19%), older (22%), women (21%) versus men (12%) lower educated (19%), middle income (20%), and urban (18%) versus rural (9%)

Satisfaction with the Catholic Church Routing Out the Problem of Pedophile Priests …

Two thirds (64%) of Canadians and a majority (55%) of Roman Catholics are not satisfied with the Roman Catholic church in routing out any predatory pedophile in among its priests. Only 29% of Canadians, but a higher level of Roman Catholics (42%), indicate their satisfaction with the Catholic Church in this regard.

Only 8% of Canadians and 14% of Roman Catholics are 'very' satisfied with how the Catholic Church has responded

Those Canadians most likely to be dissatisfied (64%) are from British Columbia (77%) followed then by Ontario (68%), Saskatchewan/Manitoba/Atlantic Canada (67%), Alberta (61%) and Québec (53%). Those who are Roman Catholic and most likely to be dissatisfied are from Atlantic Canada (71%) and British Columbia (71%)

More educated (71%) and affluent Canadians (72%), as well as rural Roman Catholics (59%) are most likely to be dissatisfied

Quebecers (42%) are the most likely to say that they're satisfied with the efforts put forward by the Roman Catholic Church in routing out any predatory pedophiles within its ranks, while those living in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (31%), Atlantic Canada (29%), Ontario (26%), and Alberta (26%) are much less satisfied. Just 13% of all British Columbians are satisfied with the way the Church has been addressing the issue

Younger Canadians (34%) are more likely to be satisfied than middle-aged (27%) or older (25%) Canadians

Satisfaction With How Local Canadian Police Forces And The Justice System Have Responded…

A majority (55%) of Canadians and Roman Catholics (57%) are satisfied with local Canadian police forces and the justice system in investigating in dealing with issues related to accusations of priests and sexual assault. However, it should be noted that only 14% of Canadians and 19% of Roman Catholics are 'very' satisfied in the responsiveness to the accusations of priests and sexual assault.

Those Canadians most likely to be satisfied (55%) with the efforts of local Canadian police forces and the justice system are from Atlantic Canada (64%) Atlantic Canadians followed by those living in Ontario (57%), Quebec (55%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (53%), British Columbia (50%) and Alberta (49%). They are also most likely to be younger Canadians (59%), urban (57%), higher educated (57%) and lower income (60%)

Those Roman Catholics most likely to be satisfied (57%) with the efforts of local Canadian police forces in the justice system are from Ontario (62%) followed by Saskatchewan and Manitoba (58%), Atlantic Canada (56%), Québec (56%), Alberta (53%) and British Columbia (39%)

Those Canadians most likely to be dissatisfied with the efforts of local Canadian police forces and the justice system are from British Columbia (45%) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (45%) and Québec (42%). Demographically, and they are most likely to be older (45%), rural (45%) and lower educated (46%)

Those Roman Catholics most likely to be dissatisfied with the efforts of local Canadian police forces and the justice system British Columbia (54%), Alberta (47%) and Atlantic Canada (44%), those aged 55+ (51%), women (42%), rural (53%), least educated (50%) and those with middle income (47%)

For more information on this news release, please contact:

John Wright
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Reid Public Affairs
(416) 324-2002
john.wright@ipsos.com

About Ipsos Reid

Ipsos Reid is Canada's market intelligence leader, the country's leading provider of public opinion research, and research partner for loyalty and forecasting and modelling insights. With operations in eight cities, Ipsos Reid employs more than 600 research professionals and support staff in Canada. The company has the biggest network of telephone call centres in the country, as well as the largest pre-recruited household and online panels. Ipsos Reid's marketing research and public affairs practices offer the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada, all of which provide clients with actionable and relevant information. Staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds, Ipsos Reid offers syndicated information or custom solutions across key sectors of the Canadian economy, including consumer packaged goods, financial services, automotive, retail, and technology & telecommunications. Ipsos Reid is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group.

To learn more, please visit www.ipsos.ca .

About Ipsos

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Contact Information

  • John Wright, Senior Vice President, Ipsos Reid Public Affairs
    Primary Phone: 416-324-2002
    E-mail: john.wright@ipsos.com