St. Leo News Release
Americans Split on Denying Communion to Political Leaders
As Pope Francis, President Biden Prepare to Meet, New Polling by Saint Leo University Examines Views on Denying Communion
• 38.6 percent of Americans say politicians supporting abortion access should be denied Communion
• 47.4 percent of American Catholics polled say Communion should be denied to politicians supporting abortion access
As President Joe Biden prepares to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday amidst controversy regarding whether those who support access to abortion are entitled to receive Communion, a new Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey examines Americans’ thoughts on the issue.
Some Catholic clergy argue that Biden should be denied the sacrament of Communion because of his support of abortion rights. But in September, Pope Francis said politics has no place in the decision about who receives the Eucharist.
The Saint Leo University poll was conducted online, October 17-23, among 1,000 total respondents nationally. The resulting margin of error for the results is 3.0 percentage points in either direction.
Survey respondents are split on denying Communion to leading politicians who support legal access to abortion, according to the Saint Leo poll. The new poll shows 42.4 percent oppose denying Communion, while 38.6 percent are in favor of denying the sacrament to leading politicians who support legal access to abortion.
The poll asked: “Some leading politicians are pro-choice while others are pro-life. The Catholic Church opposes abortion. How strongly would you say you support or oppose the practice of denying Communion to leading politicians who support legal access to abortion?”
Of the 1,000 Americans polled, 20.6 percent say they strongly support denying Communion, while 18 percent say they somewhat support denying leaders the sacrament. In opposition to denial of Communion, 12.7 percent say they somewhat oppose, and 29.7 say they strongly oppose refusing to give Communion to political leaders—another 19 percent report they are unsure.
Among Catholics who responded to the Saint Leo poll, 47.4 percent say Communion should be denied to those leaders who are in favor of legal access to abortion. Among the Christians polled, 41.8 percent say Communion should be denied, while 45.3 percent who say they belong to other religions and 19.2 percent who say they belong to no religion, support denial of the sacrament.
Opinion on Pope Francis
The poll also examined American’s opinions about Pope Francis. The pope’s favorability rating decreased slightly to 54 percent from the 55.6 percent recorded in Saint Leo’s February 2021 poll. In October 2020, Saint Leo’s poll showed 56.4 percent of Americans held a favorable opinion of the pontiff.
About the Poll
METHODOLOGY: This national survey was conducted from October 17, 2021, through October 23, 2021, among a base of 1,000 respondents nationally, using an online instrument. The national sample has an associated margin of error of +/- 3.0 percent at a 95 percent confidence for questions asked of all 1,000 respondents.
The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.
The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can also be found here: http://polls.saintleo.edu. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.
About Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University is one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation, offering 57 undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs to more than 18,200 students each year. Founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks, the private, nonprofit university is known for providing a values-based education to learners of all backgrounds and ages in the liberal arts tradition. Saint Leo is regionally accredited and offers a residential campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, 16 education centers in five states, and an online program for students anywhere. The university is home to more than 98,000 alumni. Learn more at saintleo.edu.