A new study has revealed that majority of American Catholics are okay with same-sex marriage and believe that Pope Francis supports such a relationship as well.
The study was conducted and released this month by the Public Religion Research Institute, an American non-profit, non-partisan organisation dedicated to research and education.
One in five Americans are Catholics, the study showed, with 59 percent of them categorised as white non-Hispanic, while 34 percent are identified as Hispanic.
When the Catholic respondents were asked whether gay and lesbian couples should have the legal right to marry, 60 percent of them said yes, whereas 55 percent of Americans in general have the same opinion.
In the same vein, 51 percent of Catholics said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 53 percent of the general population said the same thing.
According to the Christian Post, the Catholics' apparent acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage is in stark contrast to the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, which stresses that marriage should only be a union between a man and a woman. Officially, the Catholic church also stands strongly against abortion.
American Catholics maintained a favourable view of Pope Francis. However, many seemed to be confused with regards to his stance on gay marriage. Around 49 percent of Catholics who favour gay marriage believe the pontiff is supportive of the practice, while 15 percent of those opposed to same-sex marriage believe the same thing.
A petition has been launched by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) asking the Vatican to clear up the "widespread confusion" in society with regards to the Roman Catholic stance on issues such as gay marriage and divorce.
The petition has received more than half a million signatures already, including those of five cardinals.
"College students from coast to coast are asking Pope Francis to reaffirm Church teaching at the Synod," said John Ritchie, director of TFP Student Action.
"After Ireland and the US Supreme Court both approved same-sex 'marriage,' a strong reaffirmation of Church teaching could save the sacred institution of marriage, strengthen the family and dispel the lies of the homosexual revolution," Ritchie said in a statement. "Young Catholics—even non-Catholics—look to the Church as a beacon of morality and stability in our Godless culture, but some of our shepherds have issued confusing statements."