As the Catholic church wrestles with changing community attitudes on key social issues, a new Italian survey finds more support for abortion, gay rights and euthanasia than for cosmetic surgery.
According to the survey published in the daily La Stampa this week, 61 percent of Italians support abortion and 76 percent believe they should be able to request the right to die.
By comparison, only 44 percent of those surveyed said they supported face-lifts, which are common in Italy. The dissonance was telling because more than 80 percent of Italians consider themselves Catholic, according to a recent Pew Research poll, and church teaching opposes abortion as a grave moral evil.
The survey also found that a large number of Italians support gay relations, with 75 percent saying they consider same-sex couples acceptable, even though gay marriage is still illegal in Italy.
Young Italians were even more united in their support for abortion, with 82 percent of those under the age of 24 calling for abortion rights, compared with 49 percent of those over age 65.
Abortion is permitted in the first three months of pregnancy under Italian law for economic or health reasons, but many doctors refuse to perform the procedure on religious grounds.
The survey polled 3,888 Italians across various age groups in June. It was conducted by one of the largest banks, Intesa Sanpaolo, in conjunction with Community Media Research and published in La Stampa on Monday.
In June, Catholic bishops reaffirmed their opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage while seeking new ways to deal with unmarried couples, divorced people and single parents in the church.
The survey of 114 bishops' conferences around the world found that many Christians had trouble accepting church teachings on birth control, divorce, homosexuality and cohabitation.
The survey's findings will be discussed at the Synod of Bishops, a global conference on pastoral practices, in October.
The 75-page document said that while the Catholic church should not recognize gay unions, it should baptize the children of gay parents if they request it.