What Do Americans Think of Pope Francis? More Than 64% Express a Favorable View
Pope Francis' Coat of Arms
Among US adults overall, more than six-in-ten (64%) express a favorable view of Pope Francis. While this is lower than the high of 70% who gave Francis a favorable rating in February of this year, the share of Americans expressing an unfavorable view of Francis also has ticked down (10% now, compared with 15% in February). Making up for these differences: The share of people who say they cannot rate the pope has increased from 15% earlier this year to 27% now.
A large majority of US Catholics (86%) say they have a favorable view of Pope Francis, comparable to the 90% registered in a Pew Research Center poll earlier this year. Throughout his two-year papacy, Francis' favorability ratings among Catholics have tended to be higher than those of his immediate predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, and they have approached the very high ratings given to Pope John Paul II in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
While Catholics in general express highly favorable views of Pope Francis, some subgroups are even more enthusiastic than others. For example, more Catholic women than men say they view the pontiff very favorably (57% vs. 46%). And Catholics who report attending Mass at least once a week are more likely than those who attend less regularly to hold a very favorable view.
Catholic Republicans and Democrats are about equally likely to express positive views of the pope, as are both conservative and liberal Catholics.
Non-Catholic Americans also give Pope Francis largely positive ratings. Seven-in-ten white mainline Protestants have a favorable view of Francis (69%), as do majorities of black Protestants (59%) and those with no religious affiliation (58%). White evangelical Protestants express a somewhat less positive view, with roughly half (51%) saying they have a favorable view of the pope, down from 60% in February of this year. But the share of white evangelicals who express an unfavorable view of Francis also has dropped by eight percentage points since February, while the share of evangelicals who offer no opinion of the pontiff has grown by 16 points.
A large majority of Catholics (74%) continue to view Pope Francis as representing a major change for the Catholic Church. And most who hold this view also say that Francis represents a change for the better. Indeed, about seven-in-ten Catholics (69%) say the pope represents a major, positive change. Only 3% of Catholics see Francis as a change for the worse. About one-in-six Catholics (17%) say Francis does not represent a major change for the Catholic Church.
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