Survey: American Approval of Pope Francis Down from 66% to 53%

Emily Ward | September 20, 2018 | 1:09pm EDT
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Pope Francis. (YouTube)

( -- Pope Francis' approval among Americans has dropped considerably in the past month, according to a Gallup poll conducted Sept. 4-12.

Gallup said to respondents via telephone, "We'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of that person – or if you have never heard of them. How about – Pope Francis?"

The results showed that American approval of the pope has decreased from 66% to 53%, a 13-point drop, and that 27% of Americans now hold an unfavorable view of the pope. Only 12% of respondents had no opinion, according to the survey.

"Americans' opinions of Pope Francis have become less positive this month, with 53% now holding a favorable opinion of the pontiff, down from 66% in August," Gallup reported.

The Vatican in Rome, Italy.  (YouTube)

The decrease in approval for the pope comes in the midst of the sexual abuse scandal (and episcopal cover-up) that is currently rocking the Catholic Church.

A now-infamous grand jury report exposed over 300 priests (and some diocesan employees) in Pennsylvania who had allegedly sexually abused more than 1,000 children. More recently, Archbishop Maria Viganò published a letter accusing Pope Francis himself of being complicit in the cover-up of the homosexual abuse and harassment by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Despite these revelations, however, the opinion of U.S. Roman Catholics toward Pope Francis has not changed much over the past month.

"Seventy-nine percent of U.S. Catholics have a favorable opinion of Francis, essentially unchanged from the 78% who felt the same last month. There has been no change in the 12% of U.S. Catholics who hold negative views of the pope," Gallup said.

Gallup suggested that this lack of change could mean that Catholics “may not hold Francis responsible” for the homosexual abuse scandal.

“This lack of impact for Francis among Catholics may indicate that the level of fallout the pope experiences will be limited. U.S. Catholics may not hold Francis responsible for the current controversies or may agree with the pope’s response to them so far,” Gallup said.

Among non-Catholics, the Pope’s favorability has dropped significantly.

“Among these Americans, 45% now hold a favorable view of the pope, compared with 63% last month and 72% in 2014,” Gallup reported.

The survey further showed that although favorable opinions toward Pope Francis have decreased, the pope is still faring better than Pope Benedict XVI, his predecessor, at the end of his papacy.

“In Gallup’s final reading on Benedict, in 2010, 40% of Americans viewed him favorably and 35% unfavorably,” Gallup said.

Gallup conducted the poll using a random sample of over 1,000 American adults.

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