NEW YORK — Looking back on the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, most Roman Catholics in the United States offered mixed reviews of his leadership, a new New York Times/CBS News poll found.
Just ahead of the conclave that will choose his successor, a quarter of American Catholics said Benedict’s leadership had helped the church, just over 10 percent said it hurt the church, while most, 52 percent, said it had been mixed.
Those results are similar to a 2010 poll, but are less positive than views of Pope John Paul II’s leadership in polls taken during his papacy by The New York Times and CBS News. In polls conducted in 2002 and 2004, more than 4 in 10 Catholics said his leadership helped the church. Following his death in 2005, more than 6 in 10 said so.
‘‘He just seemed kind of bland,’’ Dorothy Lascuola, 66, a frequent churchgoer from Butler, Pa., said of Pope Benedict XVI in a follow-up interview. ‘‘I guess I try to draw a parallel with John Paul II, and I really admired him and his stance on a lot of different issues. I didn’t see Pope Benedict as a leader per se. I hope we have a stronger leader coming forth this time. And a younger one. I think he carried a lot of baggage.’’
When assessing the state of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, most Catholics were positive, though not strongly so. A majority, 54 percent, rated the way things were going as excellent or good. But that includes 50 percent who said they were good, and a mere 4 percent who said they were excellent.