Pope Francis Still Highly Regarded in U.S., though Signs of Disenchantment Emerge

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Five years into Francis’ papacy, a immeasurable infancy of U.S. Catholics continue to have a auspicious opinion of a Argentinian pontiff, and many contend he represents a vital – and certain – change for a Roman Catholic Church. At a same time, a new Pew Research Center consult finds signs of flourishing displeasure with Francis among Catholics on a domestic right, with augmenting shares of Catholic Republicans observant they viewpoint Francis unfavorably, and that they consider he is too magnanimous and naïve.

Currently, 84% of American Catholics contend they have a “favorable” viewpoint of Pope Francis, that is probably matching to a share who voiced a certain viewpoint of a pope after a initial year of his pontificate. Furthermore, roughly nine-in-ten U.S. Catholics news Pope Francis as “compassionate” and “humble.” And yet a share of Catholics in a U.S. who consider Pope Francis represents a “major change” for a improved is down from a high prove in 2015, scarcely six-in-ten still demonstrate this view.

But while Francis stays utterly popular, there are signs that American Catholics are reduction smitten with him than was once a case. For instance, a share of American Catholics who contend Pope Francis is “too liberal” has jumped 15 commission points between 2015 and today, from 19% to 34%. And about a entertain of U.S. Catholics (24%) now contend he is naïve, adult from 15% in 2015.

Over a same period, a share of American Catholics who give Pope Francis “excellent” or “good” outlines for his doing of a sex abuse liaison forsaken from 55% to 45%. (The consult was conducted before a new pope revisit to Chile and Peru, that stirred new questions and media coverage about a pope’s doing of this issue.) And there have been identical declines in a share of Catholics who give a pope certain outlines for “spreading a Catholic faith” and “standing adult for normal dignified values,” yet on change he continues to hoard some-more courtesy than critique on these fronts.

The consult also finds signs of flourishing polarization along narrow-minded lines in Catholics’ views of Francis. The share of Republican and Republican-leaning Catholics who contend Pope Francis is “too liberal” has some-more than doubled given 2015 (from 23% to 55%). Similarly, one-third of Catholic Republicans now contend Francis is “naïve,” adult from 16% who pronounced this in 2015. Among Democratic and Democratic-leaning Catholics, by contrast, there has been no statistically poignant change in opinion on possibly of these questions.

In addition, while many Republican Catholics continue to demonstrate a auspicious viewpoint of Francis, a share who have a auspicious viewpoint of a pontiff is down compared with a finish of his initial year in office, 4 years ago. At that time, there was no graphic disproportion between a share of Catholic Republicans (90%) and Democrats (87%) who voiced a auspicious viewpoint of Francis. Today, by contrast, a pope’s favorability rating is 10 points aloft among Catholic Democrats (89%) than among Catholic Republicans (79%).

Over a same period, a share of Catholic Republicans who contend Francis represents a major, certain change for a Catholic Church has declined from 60% to 37%. By contrast, there has been small transformation given a finish of Francis’ initial year as pope in a share of Catholic Democrats who viewpoint him as a vital change for a improved (71% currently vs. 76% in 2014).

These are among a pivotal commentary of a new inhabitant consult by Pew Research Center, conducted Jan. 10 to 15 among 1,503 adults, including 316 Catholics. Among a U.S. open as a whole (including both Catholics and non-Catholics), roughly six-in-ten contend they have a auspicious viewpoint of Pope Francis, that is on standard with a share of Americans who gave Francis a auspicious rating in a early summer of 2015 (just before his revisit to a U.S.), and rather next a arise of 70% who rated him agreeably in Feb 2015 and again in early 2017. Compared with Francis, Pope Benedict XVI generally warranted reduce favorability ratings from a U.S. open (except in Apr 2008, immediately following his U.S. trip), while Pope John Paul II warranted aloft ratings from a mid-1980s by a mid-1990s.

While Francis is utterly renouned with Americans overall, investigate of Pew Research Center surveys conducted given he became pope finds no justification of a arise in a share of Americans who brand as Catholic (22% in 2012, 20% in 2017), and no denote of a Francis-inspired resurgence in Mass attendance. In surveys conducted in 2017, 38% of Catholic respondents contend they attend Mass weekly. By comparison, in a year before Francis became pope, 41% of U.S. Catholics reported attending Mass weekly.

There are, however, a series of changes occurring within American Catholicism that were underway before Francis became pope and have continued during his pontificate. For instance, a share of U.S. Catholics who are Hispanic has grown from 32% in a year before Francis became pope to 36% today. The share of U.S. Catholics who preference permitting gays and lesbians to legally marry has grown from 54% in 2012 to 67% in 2017. And while there has been small change in a narrow-minded combination of Catholic electorate as a whole, white Catholic purebred electorate have continued to trend in a Republican direction. As of today, 54% of white Catholic electorate brand with or gaunt toward a GOP, adult from 50% in 2012 and early 2013.

Other pivotal commentary from a new consult include:

  • Roughly half of Catholics (55%) contend a priests during their bishopric are “very supportive” of Pope Francis, and an additional 23% contend their priests are “somewhat supportive” of a pontiff. Roughly one-in-five self-identified Catholics decrease to answer a doubt or else proffer that they do not attend church mostly adequate to consider a turn of support for Francis among their bishopric priests. Just 2% contend their priests are “not too” or “not during all” understanding of a pontiff.
  • Roughly six-in-ten Catholics (58%) contend Francis is doing an “excellent” or “good” pursuit appointing new bishops and cardinals, and 55% contend he is doing an “excellent” or “good” pursuit addressing environmental issues.
  • Among U.S. Catholics as a whole, roughly three-quarters contend a pontiff has finished “a lot” (33%) or “a little” (41%) to make a Catholic Church some-more usurpation of homosexuality. And seven-in-ten U.S. Catholics contend Pope Francis has finished “a lot” (26%) or “a little” (43%) to make a church some-more usurpation of divorce and remarriage.
  • The consult shows, furthermore, that many Catholics seem to approve of Francis’ actions in these areas. Six-in-ten Catholics (63%) contend Francis has finished during slightest a small to foster acceptance of homosexuality, and also contend he has finished “about a right amount” or that they would like to see him “do more” on this issue. Similarly, 64% of Catholics contend a pope has finished during slightest a small to boost acceptance of divorce and remarriage, and that he has finished “the right amount” or that they would like him to “do more.”

The rest of this news looks during a formula of a consult and during longer-term trends in American Catholicism in some-more detail, including differences by eremite connection and observance.

Views of Pope Francis

Pope Francis stays renouned among a accumulation of Catholic and non-Catholic groups

In a 5 years given Pope Francis was elected, a share of American Catholics who have rated him agreeably has ranged from 79% (in Sep 2013) to 90% (in Feb 2015), generally hovering in a mid-80s.

By this measure, Francis has been rated some-more positively, on average, than was his evident predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. But Francis’ favorability ratings tumble next a really high outlines U.S. Catholics gave to Pope John Paul II during a late 1980s and mid-1990s. (Pew Research Center’s polling about John Paul II was conducted before a sex abuse liaison within a church perceived widespread media coverage in a early 2000s.)

Pope Francis’ recognition among Catholics is widespread opposite a accumulation of Catholic subgroups. He is noticed agreeably by many Catholic women and men, as good as by those underneath age 50 and by comparison Catholics. (The consult did not embody adequate interviews with Hispanic Catholics to assent a comparison between them and white Catholics.)

Catholics who attend Mass during slightest once a week give Francis rather aloft outlines than do those who attend Mass reduction often; 56% of weekly Mass attenders contend they have a “very favorable” viewpoint of a pontiff, compared with 40% among Catholics who attend Mass reduction often. Still, immeasurable majorities of both groups rate a pope during slightest “mostly” favorably.

The consult also shows that American Catholics are not alone in their indebtedness of Pope Francis. Two-thirds (67%) of white mainline Protestants and 58% of religiously independent adults have certain views of Francis, as do roughly half of black Protestants (53%) and white devout Protestants (52%).

There have been during slightest dual important shifts in Francis’ ratings among non-Catholic groups given his election. White devout Protestants have turn extremely some-more expected to rate Francis unfavorably: Just one-in-ten white evangelicals (9%) did this immediately after his election, compared with 28% currently (similar to a 31% who rated him unfavorably about a year ago). And religiously independent Americans have turn some-more expected to rate Francis agreeably (39% in Mar 2013, 58% today), nonetheless a share who rate him agreeably has declined rather in a past year, from 71% in Jan 2017.

 

Five years into his papacy, many Catholics (67%) continue to contend Pope Francis represents a vital change in instruction for a Catholic Church. This outlines a slight decrease given 2015 in a share who viewpoint a pontiff as a vital change, with a decrease strong among those who see Francis as a change for a better.

Early on in his papacy, roughly seven-in-ten Catholics saw Pope Francis as a vital change in a certain direction. Today, 58% of American Catholics share this perspective. Since Francis’ progressing days there has also been a slight boost in a share who contend a pontiff is a vital change for a worse. And given 2015, a share who contend he is not a vital change during all has ticked adult 9 commission points.

Across a board, U.S. Catholics find a pope merciful and humble

When asked about 4 graphic attributes that could request to a pope, a immeasurable infancy of U.S. Catholics contend “compassionate” (94%) and “humble” (91%) news Francis. This is probably unvaried from 2015, a final time Pew Research Center asked these questions. And these overwhelmingly certain feelings toward a pontiff reason loyal opposite a far-reaching accumulation of Catholic subgroups, including organisation and women, comparison and younger Catholics, unchanging Mass-goers and those who attend eremite services reduction often.

Over a same time period, however, there has been an uptick in a share who contend a dual disastrous descriptors request to a pope. The share of U.S. Catholics who contend a pope is “naïve” has increasing given 2015, from 15% to 24% today. And about a third of U.S. Catholics (34%) contend Pope Francis is “too liberal,” adult from 19% who pronounced this 3 years ago.

Catholic Republicans (as good as those who gaunt toward a GOP) are distant some-more expected than Catholic Democrats and Democratic leaners (55% vs. 19%) to contend that “too liberal” is an accurate descriptor for a pontiff.

Most U.S. Catholics contend their bishopric priests are understanding of Pope Francis

A infancy of American Catholics contend their bishopric priests are understanding of Pope Francis, including 55% who contend their priests are “very” understanding and 23% who contend their priests are “somewhat” supportive. Just 2% contend their bishopric priests are not too or not during all understanding of a pope. An additional one-in-five possibly proffer that they do not attend church mostly adequate to sign their bishopric priests’ views of a pontiff (6%) or differently decrease to answer a doubt (13%).

The share who see their bishopric care as really understanding toward Francis is identical opposite many Catholic subgroups – including Democrats and Republicans. But Catholics who attend Mass during slightest weekly mount out from those who attend reduction often. Fully seven-in-ten Mass-goers (72%) contend their bishopric priests are really understanding of a pope, compared with 47% of those who attend reduction often. Those who attend Mass reduction than once a week are reduction expected to offer an opinion on a subject.

Pope Francis on a issues

Shrinking majorities of American Catholics give Pope Francis high outlines for swelling a Catholic faith and station adult for normal values

Seven-in-ten U.S. Catholics contend Pope Francis is doing a good or an glorious pursuit swelling a Catholic faith and station adult for normal dignified values. Roughly six-in-ten (58%) give him high outlines on appointing new bishops and cardinals, and 55% contend a same about his doing of environmental issues. Just 45% of Catholics rate a pope’s doing of a sex abuse liaison as good or excellent.

While Francis continues to get certain ratings on mixed fronts, several of these certain ratings have declined noticeably in a past 3 years, and a share giving him disastrous ratings has increased. On a emanate of swelling a Catholic faith, for example, only 10% pronounced a pope was doing an “only fair” or “poor” pursuit in 2015; currently 25% give him disastrous marks. Likewise, U.S. Catholics are twice as expected currently as in 2015 to negatively rate Pope Francis’ opening station adult for normal dignified values (26% “only fair” or “poor” currently vs. 13% in 2015). And on a emanate of a sex abuse liaison within a Catholic Church, 46% contend a pontiff is doing a bad or intermediate pursuit (roughly equal to a share who give him certain reviews), adult from 34% who pronounced a same 3 years ago.

Catholics who attend Mass weekly or some-more mostly are distant some-more expected than Catholics who attend services reduction mostly to definitely rate a pope’s opening on any emanate asked about.

Most see Francis creation a church some-more accepting, still see room for him to do more

New questions on this consult asked Catholics how much, if anything, they consider Pope Francis has finished to make a Catholic Church some-more usurpation of homosexuality as good as of divorce and remarriage. Respondents also were asked either they wish a pontiff to do some-more or reduction in these areas.

Most U.S. Catholics contend Francis has finished during slightest some to make a church some-more usurpation of homosexuality, including 33% who contend he has finished a lot and 41% who contend he has finished a little. Just 16% contend he has finished zero during all.

Regardless of how many they consider a pope has already finished in this area, roughly four-in-ten Catholics (38%) would like to see him do more, including 12% who contend he has already finished a lot, 21% who contend he has finished a little, and 5% who contend he has finished zero in this regard. Another three-in-ten Catholics contend that Francis has finished about a right volume in creation a church some-more usurpation of homosexuality, with 17% observant that he has finished a lot, and 13% observant that he has finished a little. One-in-ten contend he has finished zero and that they would not like to see him do more, while only 6% contend they would like to see him do less to boost a Catholic Church’s acceptance of homosexuality.

About a entertain of U.S. Catholics (26%) contend Francis has finished a lot to make a church some-more usurpation of divorce and remarriage, 43% contend he has finished a small in this regard, and 17% contend he has finished nothing. Overall, scarcely four-in-ten Catholics (37%) would like to see a pontiff do some-more to boost a church’s acceptance of divorce and remarriage, and a identical share (34%) contend he has finished during slightest a small in this area and that it is “about a right amount.” Smaller shares contend he has finished zero and should do zero (8%) or that he should be doing reduction to make a Catholic Church some-more usurpation toward divorce and remarriage (3%).

In their possess difference – what is a many poignant thing Francis has finished as pope?

Another new doubt on a consult asked Catholics to describe, in their possess words, a many poignant thing Pope Francis has finished in his time as pope.

In response, American Catholics named a extended operation of accomplishments. About one-in-ten remarkable Francis’ work in environment a good Christian instance (9%), opening adult a church and apropos some-more usurpation (9%), and assisting a bad (8%). Another 7% contend his biggest grant has been to make a Catholic Church some-more usurpation toward gays and lesbians, while 6% bring tellurian outreach. And 5% contend he is ordering a Catholic village and enlivening open communication and dialogue. Still others named a far-reaching accumulation of additional actions in religious, social, and domestic spheres that a pope has undertaken during his initial 5 years.

Just 4% of U.S. Catholics list disastrous or neutral actions as Pope Francis’ many poignant accomplishment, such as apropos overly concerned in politics or alienating regressive Catholics. Another 4% contend he hasn’t finished anything poignant during all, or that they are still watchful to see what he will do. And three-in-ten American Catholics (29%) proffer that they do not know or can't name any poignant thing that a pope has done.

Catholic trends during Francis’ papacy

Since Francis began his papacy he has enjoyed high favorability ratings from U.S. Catholics; many have wondered if his recognition would coax a supposed Francis effect, reinvigorating a Catholic community. Pew Research Center surveys do not see justification of this form of effect, during slightest as totalled by a share of Catholics in a U.S. adult race or a share of Catholics who contend they attend Mass regularly, nonetheless of march it is probable that Catholic life in a U.S. has been revitalized in ways not totalled in a Center’s surveys.

In 2012 and a initial dual months of 2013, before Francis became pope, 22% of U.S. adults identified as Catholics in Pew Research Center surveys. As of 2017, a Catholic share of U.S. adults stands during 20%, representing a really slight decrease in a altogether share of U.S. adults who are Catholic.

Over a same period, self-reported Mass assemblage also has dipped rather among self-described Catholics. In 2012, 41% of U.S. Catholics pronounced they attended Mass weekly or more; now 38% contend a same. Another four-in-ten (42%) contend they attend a few times a month or several times a year, and one-in-five contend they occasionally or never attend Mass.1

The secular and racial combination of U.S. Catholics also shows continued signs of shifting. Catholics currently are rather reduction expected to be non-Hispanic whites than in 2012 (56% now vs. 61% then). And they are rather some-more expected to brand as Hispanic – 36% of U.S. Catholics currently contend they are Hispanic, compared with 32% in 2012. These demographic changes began good before Francis became pope. And even but deliberation a impacts of destiny immigration to a U.S., data on a age structure of a U.S. Catholic population advise that Hispanics will continue to grow as a share of a U.S. Catholic population, given they are extremely younger, on average, than are white Catholics.

U.S. Catholics also have usually turn some-more understanding of same-sex marriage over a years, and this has continued given Pope Francis insincere a papacy. In 2001, 40% of Catholics voiced support for permitting gays and lesbians to marry legally. By 2012, only before Francis’ election, a share of Catholics expressing support for same-sex matrimony had grown to 54%, reflecting increasing acceptance of same-sex matrimony among a U.S. race command large. As of 2017, entirely two-thirds of Catholics contend they preference permitting happy and lesbian couples to marry legally.

By comparison, U.S. Catholics’ attitudes about termination have been comparatively stable. Overall, 53% contend termination should be authorised in all or many cases, while 44% contend it should be bootleg in all or many cases.

Just before Pope Francis insincere office, 44% of Catholic purebred electorate identified as Republican or pronounced they leaned toward a GOP, and 48% of Catholic electorate pronounced they were Democrats or leaned toward a Democratic Party. Today those numbers are probably unchanged. And a share of Catholics who brand as conservative, assuage or magnanimous on a domestic spectrum have been likewise stable.

Among white, non-Hispanic Catholic purebred voters, however, a Francis years have been noted by a continuation of a longer-term change toward a GOP. As of 2008, 49% of white Catholic purebred electorate in Pew Research Center surveys identified with or leaned toward a Democratic Party, while 41% adored a GOP. Since then, however, white Catholics’ support for a GOP has usually increased. By 2012 and early 2013, only before Francis became pope, Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 8 commission points (50% vs. 42%) among white Catholics. And today, Republicans outnumber Democrats by 14 points in this organisation (54% vs. 40%).

Most Hispanic Catholics, meanwhile, continue to brand as Democrats (64%), while distant fewer (27%) contend they are Republicans – small altered in new years. Among Catholics overall, a fact that primarily Democratic Hispanics are flourishing as a share of all U.S. Catholics has offset out white Catholics’ change toward a Republican Party.

 

  1. Recent investigate shows that surveys that ask respondents directly about how mostly they attend eremite services obtain aloft estimates of rates of weekly assemblage as compared with other, some-more surreptitious methods of information collection (such as seeking respondents to keep a diary of how they spend their days, but specific anxiety to assemblage during ceremony services). When stirred directly by a consult doubt to news how mostly they attend eremite services, respondents who prove they attend each week seem to be indicating that they are a kind of chairman who attends eremite services regularly, not indispensably that they literally never skip a week of church. See, for example, Brenner, Philip S. 2011. “Exceptional Behavior or Exceptional Identity? Overreporting of Church Attendance in a U.S.” Public Opinion Quarterly. In further to a over-reporting of church assemblage outset from seeking respondents directly about how mostly they attend eremite services, readers should bear in mind that write opinion surveys can furnish overestimates of eremite assemblage due to high rates of nonresponse. See, for example, Pew Research Center’s 2012 news “Assessing a Representativeness of Public Opinion Surveys.” See also Pew Research Center’s Jul 21, 2015, Fact Tank post “The Challenges of Polling When Fewer People Are Available to be Polled.”
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