Americans' view of the honesty and ethics of clergy has fallen to an all-time low in a ranking of different professions released by Gallup.
The Gallup poll, conducted between Dec. 3-12 of 1,025 U.S. adults, found that only 37 percent of respondents had a "very high" or "high” opinion of the honesty and ethical standards of clergy. Forty-three percent of people gave them an average rating, while 15 percent said they had a “low” or “very low” opinion, according to the poll that was released on Dec. 21.
The margin of sampling error for the survey was identified as plus or minus 4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.
Gallup noted that the 37 percent "very high" or "high" score for clergy is the lowest since it began asking the question in 1977. The historical high of 67 percent occurred back in 1985, and the score has been dropping below the overall average positive rating of 54 percent since 2009.
"The public's views of the honesty and ethics of the clergy continue to decline after the Catholic Church was rocked again this year by more abuse scandals,” Gallup noted in its observations.
Sexual abuse claims, involving both children and adults, have rocked churches across the U.S., South America and Europe this year, affecting both Protestant and Catholic congregations.
One of the biggest scandals occurred in August when a Pennsylvania grand jury released a 1,300-page report, revealing that at least 301 priests had abused over 1,000 children in the past several decades. What is more, it was found that many of the perpetrators were protected by the church's hierarchy and moved to other churches.
Pope Francis admitted at the time his "shame and repentance" at the failures of the church to act against abusers.
"We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them," Francis said in an open letter. "Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient."
The Vatican leader has planned a global summit of bishops in February 2019 on the subject of tackling sex abuse in the church, which will be one of the biggest meetings of its kind ever held.
In the Gallup poll, 48 percent of Protestants rated clergy positively, compared to only 31 percent of Catholics.
Nurses, meanwhile, came out on top of the rankings, with 84 percent of respondents rating their honesty and ethical standards as "very high" or "high."
Medical doctors, pharmacists and high school teachers followed near the top of the list, while at the very bottom were telemarketers, car salespeople, and members of Congress.
"One notable change this year is that one-third of Americans now rate the honesty and ethics of journalists more highly, marking a 10-point jump since 2016 to a level not seen in four decades,” Gallup observed.
“This change is largely driven by Democrats, and although it is a positive change, journalists have a long way to go before reaching the ratings of highly esteemed nurses.”
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