WASHINGTON (AFP) - Sixty per cent of Catholics in the United States (US) think it would be a good thing for the next pope to come from South America, Asia or Africa, a Pew Research Center poll said on Thursday.
Another 20 per cent said it would not matter if Pope Benedict XVI's successor hails from a developing region of the world. Just 14 per cent thought it was a bad idea.
Pew's Forum on Religion and Public Life interviewed 1,504 Americans of all faiths, including 304 Catholics, on Feb 13 to 18 by telephone, on the heels of the German-born pontiff's resignation announcement on Feb 11.
Fifty-one per cent of Catholic respondents said the next pope should "maintain the traditional positions of the Church".
Of those who thought he should take the Church in new directions, 15 per cent said he should get tougher on sex abuse and nine per cent thought he should be more accepting of gays and marriage equality.
Just one per cent believed he should be less strict about abortion.
Nearly one in four Americans are Catholics, making the Church the largest single denomination in the country - and the US the developed nation with the largest Catholic population.