NEW YORK (AP) - About 71 percent of American voters believe U.S. Roman Catholic bishops should not publicly pressure Catholic politicians on abortion, according to a survey released Thursday.
And 85 percent said their view of Democrat John Kerry was unchanged by bishops' recent criticism of the Catholic presidential candidate for his support for abortion rights, according to the Quinnipiac University poll.
When broken down by Catholic voters, 66 percent said the bishops should not publicly pressure Catholic lawmakers and 87 percent said the bishops' comments would not influence their vote in November.
Several bishops have sparked a national debate over religion and politics by saying that Kerry should not receive Communion.
Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis has taken the firmest stand on the issue, saying he would not give the sacrament to the candidate.
Other bishops have said Kerry should not attempt to take Communion, but would not be denied the sacrament if he did. And some prelates have said Communion should not be used as a public sanction.
A committee of American bishops is developing guidelines on how the church should respond to Catholic politicians whose public positions are at odds with the faith's teaching.
The poll of 1,160 registered voters was conducted May 18-24 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent. The margin of error for the subgroup of Catholic respondents was plus or minus 5.6 percentage points.
Fifty-five percent of all the respondents said abortion should be legal in most or all cases.