Conclave's Key Issues?

As the Roman Catholic Church begins, at this writing, a conclave to elect a new pope, Catholics in the United States tend to view the scandal over sexual abuse by members of the clergy as the most important problem facing their church today. According to a nationwide survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 34 percent of U.S. Catholics mention sexual abuse, pedophilia or some other reference to the scandal as the church’s most important problem. No other problem garners more than 10 percent of responses. Seven percent cite low attendance at Mass, a loss of followers or a general loss of faith in society as the most important problem facing the church at this time. An equal number say the church’s most important problem is that it is outdated or out of touch and needs to become more modern or adapt to changes in society. More than a quarter of U.S. Catholics say the most important way the Catholic Church helps society today is by serving those in need through charitable works, and 11 percent say it is through providing moral guidance and values.

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The coffin containing the body of St. John XXIII is seen during a ceremony in Vittorio Veneto Square after its arrival in Bergamo, Italy, May 24. The body of the late pope left the Vatican on May 24 to be displayed in his home region until June 10. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

BERGAMO, Italy (CNS) — Accompanied by Bishop Francesco Beschi of Bergamo and escorted by both Italian and Vatican police officers, the glass coffin containing the body of St. John XXIII left the Vatican early on May 24 for a 370-mile drive to Bergamo.

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