The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Trust in clergy drops

A research group has released its “Trust Index” for 2010 — and (perhaps unsurprisingly) members of the clergy didn’t fare well:

Firefighters enjoy the highest levels of trust internationally. The clergy and marketing specialists have suffered a considerable deterioration in their reputation, and trust in politicians has also fallen once again. Conversely, the reputation of the police and judges has improved significantly. Bankers have also seen a slight recovery in their image at international level. These are the findings of the “GfK Trust Index 2010″, which has been conducted by GfK Custom Research in 19 countries.


Firefighters also rank in first place in Germany, with 97% regarding them as trustworthy, while doctors enjoy the second highest level of popularity at almost 87%, closely followed by the police (86%). Judges have particularly improved their reputation: this year, 83% of the population profess to trust them, whereas the figure was just 79% in the previous year. In contrast, employees of financial institutions have fallen in the rankings, with just 57% of citizens claiming to have confidence in them in 2010. Since the beginning of the financial crisis in September 2008, bankers have seen a drop of 15 percentage points in terms of trust levels. However, in view of the overall figure for all surveyed countries, this professional group has a relatively good reputation in Germany. Meanwhile the standing of the clergy here in Germany has worsened considerably. Whereas its members still inspired confidence in 72% of Germans last year, this figure has now dropped back to just under 55%. The scandals relating to abuse of children and young people in church schools and by priests has greatly unsettled the population. Internationally, but also in Germany, politicians bring up the rear in the trust rankings, with just 14% of German expressing respect for this professional group.


A total of 94% of all citizens in the countries surveyed have confidence in firefighters. The service enjoys the highest credibility in Sweden (98%) and the lowest in Romania (91%). Teachers and doctors come in second place, each at 84%, followed by postal workers (82%) and the military (81%). Although police officers remain in sixth place, the same position as last year, they have markedly improved their reputation: at 75%, 14% more citizens have confidence in them than in 2009. However, the service’s reputation varies considerably from country to country. In Germany and Italy (86% in each) and Sweden (83%) this professional group enjoys the highest levels of trust. Conversely, in France (59%), Bulgaria (55%) and Romania (53%) police officers have to fight for their credibility.


More than half of respondents in all surveyed countries have faith in environmental protection organizations, judges, charities, civil servants, the clergy and market research organizations. Following the abuse scandals in the Catholic church, which received international attention, the clergy’s image has deteriorated markedly in almost all countries. Just 58% of the population in total have confidence in the group, which is 8% less than in the prior year. The clergy is judged particularly poorly by the French, at 33%, whereas it achieves the best ratings in Romania (86%).

Over half of respondents expressed criticism of lawyers, bankers, trade unions, journalists, marketing specialists, managers, advertising experts and politicians.

As in previous years, politicians are bottom of the rankings and their approval rating has fallen by another 4% compared with the previous year, to stand at just 14%.

Check out more at the link.

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posted June 11, 2010 at 1:02 am

Should have been a drop in trust clergy 35-40 years ago and then a rebound to good trust today. But that is not the way it worked out.

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Inne Cogneeto

posted June 11, 2010 at 3:15 am

The clergy are firefighters of sorts. 😀

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posted June 11, 2010 at 10:44 am

Shoulda, woulda, coulda…that’s the problem with sweeping things under the rug…all that dirt builds up and creates a bigger mess than the intial one. It is what it is now and good priests are now paying the price for bad bishops. Live and learn.
Forget that ridiculous, completely ineffective new questionnaire candidates for the priesthood have to endure these days. Have ’em go through the NYC firefighter physical training and final test. You’d filter out the ones whose hearts weren’t genuinely in it for all the right reasons quick enough.

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posted June 11, 2010 at 4:37 pm

No surprise. I wouldn’t trust any priest with my child alone in a room, no matter how much I liked him. In the RCC elementary school where I taught ( there were no religious who still taught there, only lay teachers) it was policy before the scandal to never be alone in a classroom with a child, and if we were for some reason, the door(s) were to be open. Had no problems in the 10 years I taught there.

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posted June 11, 2010 at 5:12 pm

The idea that children are never to be allowed to have a private moment with any adult is truly sad. Like the child never allowed out of doors because of the risk of being snatched by a kidnapper or killed in a drive-by shooting who then dies of vitamin D deficiency.
This is fundamentally the Problem of Evil. We need to trust other people in order to grow and thrive emotionally, mentally and spiritually. When someone betrays trust, it is not the fault of the person who gave the trust, it is the fault of the betrayer. Life is not controllable, and those who think that they can eliminate the risks of betrayal by refusing to trust anyone are pursuing an impossibility.
(Oh, yeah, and speaking of firemen — y’all do realize that there is a small but real problem with firefighters who turn to arson because they don’t get enough fires to fight otherwise? They are addicted to the adrenalin rush of fire-fighting, and there are never enough fires for the…)

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Plane Truth

posted July 15, 2010 at 9:09 am

There’s more than irony regarding how the Church attracts gays, yet discriminates against them.

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