According to the Pew Internet Research Forum reports “Six Months Into Papacy, Large Majority of Catholics Continue To Express Favorable View of Pope Francis”
“After six eventful months, Pope Francis is rated favorably by eight-in-ten U.S. Catholics (79%). Just 4% of Catholics say they have an unfavorable view of the first Latin American pope, while 17% express no opinion or say they have not heard enough about Francis to have an opinion.”
The report provides a quick overview of some of the striking events of these six months.
“The early period of Francis’ papacy has been the subject of considerable media coverage. He recently made headlines by condemning the use of chemical weapons and leading a prayer vigil for peace in Syria. He previously had received media attention for his vow to reform the Vatican bureaucracy; washing the feet of young prisoners (including two women) during a Holy Thursday ceremony; and taking a humble approach to the trappings of the papacy, including his decision to reside in a modest residence rather than more spacious accommodations. The pope also has surprised a number of individuals around the world by reportedly calling to discuss problems in their lives. Perhaps most prominently, Francis made headlines in July for his comments about homosexuality on his return from World Youth Day in Brazil, when he said to reporters aboard his plane: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
“Some of these actions, such as the washing of women’s feet, have drawn criticism from traditionalists in the church, according to news accounts. But a new Pew Research Center survey conducted Sept. 4-8, 2013, finds that views of Pope Francis among U.S. Catholics are largely unchanged since the days immediately following his ascension to the papacy in March. The survey also finds that roughly six-in-ten Americans overall (58%) rate Francis favorably, also unchanged since March.
“Francis’ current favorability rating among U.S. Catholics is roughly equivalent to the high water mark for Pope Benedict XVI, who was rated favorably by 83% of U.S. Catholics in April 2008 following his visit to the U.S. Pope John Paul II was rated favorably by upwards of nine-in-ten U.S. Catholics in three separate Pew Research polls in the 1980s and 1990s.