Many Catholics Loyal to Church, Not the Vatican

At the Spanish Catholic Center in Washington D.C., Sister Dede Byrne is making the rounds.

She is a doctor at this clinic, putting her on the front lines where 32,000 of the city's poor came for help last year.

For Byrne, the re-emergence of the sex-abuse scandal is detracting from the Catholic Church's core work.

"Quit uprooting the scab, let it heal," she tells CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano. "And lets keep reaching out to those who've been victimized and don't let it ever happen again."

Across town, music teacher Sister Rachel Terry agrees that the church's good works are being overshadowed by the scandals.

"I don't think the stories should be hidden, I think they should be told," she said. "But there is an awful lot of good that the church does that might be overlooked in a time when there's a crisis."

For parents at her school, the crisis brings a mixture of sadness and a call for renewed faith.

"It's very disappointing to think that anyone, let alone a priest or a bishop, can not only commit an act like that but then fail to do everything to treat the victims and hold the perpetrators responsible," says local parent Dan Sullivan.

In a recent poll of Catholics, 86 percent say the scandal has not affected their faith. Yet, 58 percent say that the Pope has done a poor job in handling the scandal.

Poll: Most Say Sex Abuse by Priests Remains a Problem

This suggests a conflict of faith within the church.

"A lot of people have been, 'oh my God, when is someone going to take responsibility for this?" says Father Raymond Kemp of Georgetown University. "I think it's going to take someone in central command, mission control to say 'look, we've had enough experience of this over the last couple of decades.'"

In fact, two in five American Catholics say reports of abuse have caused them to doubt the Vatican's authority.

The Pope is trying to confront the crisis more directly by stripping away power from a once influential Catholic order and telling bishops to report clergy sex crimes to the police.

In the midst of the ongoing turmoil, most Catholics seem to be making a distinction between their faith and church leadership.

"Your faith is your faith, you have it for your whole life," says Catholic school parent Colleen Mudlaff. "Priests come and go, popes come and go. They're there to guide you but your faith is within yourself."