New Poll Explores U.S. Catholics' Views of the Pope After His First Year

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New Poll Explores U.S. Catholics' Views of the Pope After His First


WASHINGTON, March 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- One year into his

pontificate, Pope Francis remains immensely popular among American

Catholics and is widely seen as a force for positive change within the

Roman Catholic Church, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

More than eight-in-ten U.S. Catholics say they have a favorable view

of the pontiff, including half who view him very favorably. The

percentage of Catholics who view Francis "very favorably" now rivals

the number who felt equally positive about Pope John Paul II in the

1980s and 1990s, though Francis' overall favorability rating remains a

few points shy of that of the long-serving Polish pope.

Seven-in-ten U.S. Catholics also now say Francis represents a major

change in direction for the church, a sentiment shared by 56% of

non-Catholics. And nearly everyone who says Francis represents a major

change sees this as a change for the better.

It is less clear whether there has been a so-called "Francis effect,"

a discernible change in the way American Catholics approach their

faith. There has been no measurable rise in the percentage of

Americans who identify as Catholic. Nor has there been a statistically

significant change in how often Catholics say they go to Mass.

On the other hand, about a quarter of Catholics (26 say they have

become "more excited" about their Catholic faith over the past year

(outnumbering the one-in-ten who have become less excited). And fully

40% of Catholics say they have been praying more often in the past 12

months (compared with 8% who say they have been praying less often).

It is important to note that none of these questions about religious

practices were explicitly tied in the survey to Francis' papacy; the

questions dealing with attitudes toward Francis came elsewhere in the


These are among the key findings of a new Pew Research Center survey,

conducted Feb. 14-23, on landlines and cellphones among a national

sample of 1,821 adults (including 351 Catholics).

The full survey report, "Catholics View Pope Francis as a Change for

the Better," is available on the website of the Pew Research Center's

Religion & Public Life Project.

SOURCE Pew Research Center

-0- 03/06/2014

/CONTACT: Katherine Ritchey, 202-419-4562,

CO: Pew Research Center

ST: District of Columbia



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