Catholic Americans — even nonpracticing ones — have a favorable opinion of Pope Benedict XVI and of the Church, by an overwhelming margin.

That’s one of the key findings of a new poll conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, in collaboration with the Knights of Columbus.

Another key finding: Catholics welcome the Church’s strong leadership in speaking out about moral issues like the sanctity of life and the authentic definition of marriage.

Americans as a whole also have favorable opinions of both the Pope and the Church. And they also believe the Church’s voice needs to be heard on life and marriage issues.

It’s worth keeping this reality in mind, as you deal with the endless flood of media articles critical of Benedict and the Church as a whole.

Go here to review the complete findings of the Marist poll.

And go here to read a commentary by the Knights’ supreme knight, Carl Anderson, about the poll, published May 17 by Zenit.