Sex Abuse Is Catholic Church's Biggest Problem: Survey

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As the cardinal electors contemplate the merits of their peer group, from which one will likely be named pope, U.S. Catholics said sex abuse is the biggest problem facing the church, according to a new survey.

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The survey, from the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life, found that 34 percent of U.S. Catholics believe sexual abuse is the most pressing problem. However 17 percent of those surveyed said they didn't know the most important problem or they declined to offer an opinion.

No other answers elicited more than 10 percent of a response.

Credibility was named as the biggest problem by 9 percent of respondents, while an outdated church and a loss of followers garnered 7 percent each.

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Social issues, such as homosexuality and abortion, each got 2 percent of the vote.

The survey also found that 27 percent of U.S. Catholics believe the church helps society most through charity, while 11 percent said it provides a moral compass.

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