Pope John Paul II and Catholic Opinion Toward the Death Penalty and Abortion


  • *Direct correspondence to Kenneth Mulligan, Department of Political Science, Mailcode 4501, Carbondale, IL 62901 〈kmulliga@uga.edu〉. The author will share the data used in this study for the purpose of replication.


Objective. Research on opinion leadership examines the convergence of opinion between elites and masses on issues of public policy. I examine the confluence of opinion between Pope John Paul II and American Catholics on the death penalty and legalized abortion.

Method. I use data from three nationally representative opinion surveys and one statewide survey conducted prior to John Paul's death.

Results. The results support the supposition that Catholics who esteemed the pope are more negative in their evaluations of the death penalty and abortion.

Conclusions. John Paul II, as leader of the Catholic Church, may have influenced Catholic opinion on political issues.