US Catholics support same-sex marriage...

...will the new pope listen?

A majority of Catholics in the US support the legalization of same-sex marriage, a new poll from Quinnipiac University finds:

"Catholic voters are leading American voters toward support for same-sex marriage," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Among all voters, there is almost no gender gap, but a big age gap. Voters 18 to 34 years old support same sex marriage 62 - 30 percent; voters 35 to 54 years old are divided 48 - 45 percent and voters over 55 are opposed 50 - 39 percent.

This poll correlates to another from earlier this month conducted by the New York Times, in which

Sixty-two percent of Catholics said they were in favor of legalizing marriage for same-sex couples. Catholics approved of same-sex marriage at a higher rate than Americans as a whole, among whom 53 percent approved.

As Cardinals gather to elect a new pope, will they listen to the faithful on LGBT issues?

One prominent American priest, the Jesuit writer Fr. James Martin, an editor at America magazine, recently wrote a column for the Washington Post in which he said that if he were pope, he’d begin his reign by listening to marginalized groups, gays and lesbians included:

I’d begin my pontificate by listening to those who have felt that their voices may not be heard. The poor, first of all. The church does an astonishing job in caring for the poor across the globe—it’s one of the finest things we do. But because the poor don’t have access to power, the church always needs to be particularly attentive to their needs. Who else? Sex abuse victims next. We can never stop listening to the stories of victims, and the more the pope hears from them directly—and from their families—the more the church will be to stop clerical abuse and make amends. (By the way, as a starting gesture, and a sign of penance, I would sell off some of the Vatican’s art collection to contribute to a Vatican fund for sexual abuse victims.) Women next. They need to be included in decision-making roles. How could they not be? Jesus called them into his inner circle, and it was to women that the risen Christ first appeared on Easter morning. Gays and lesbians next, certainly the least listened-to group in the church. What are their experiences? The new pope will want to know--and listen. (Bold mine).

It’s hard to believe that any Cardinal voting in the conclave doesn’t toe the line on same-sex marriage and the church’s teaching on homosexuality, but a change in approach and tone could make quite the difference in welcoming gay and lesbian people to the church.

(RNS) Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley celebrates Mass for American seminarians in Rome on Monday, one day before the start of the conclave to elect a new pope. Photo courtesy George Martell/The Pilot Media Group.

Among the Americans being talked about for the church’s top job, both Cardinals Timothy Dolan of New York and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston oppose same-sex marriage, though Dolan’s approach toward the issue irks LGBT people in a particularly potent way. O’Malley is described as taking a more pastoral approach to sensitive issues, a trait that is perhaps propelling him to media stardom (well, as much stardom as a long-shot possible pope can incite).