Pope Francis Scores High Marks from Americans

pope francis official photoA new poll conducted by a secular news organization has found that an astonishing 88 percent of Americans approve of the way Pope Francis is leading the Church.

CNN is reporting that the poll, which was conducted by ORC International, surveyed more than 1,000 adults from December 16 -19. Even though only 191 of those people identifyied themselves as Catholic, an overwhelming majority – 88 percent – said they approve of what they consider to be the new course Pope Francis has set for the Church.

“Nearly two-thirds agree with him about the amount of attention that should be paid to issues such as abortion and homosexuality,” CNN reports. “While the Pope has not changed Church doctrine, he has urged Catholics to shift their focus from culture war issues to caring for people on society’s margins, especially the poor.”

Eighty-five percent of those polled say they consider Francis to be neither too liberal nor too conservative, with 86 percent saying they feel he is in touch with the modern world.

More than six in 10 American Catholics agree with Francis’ comments that women should have a greater role in Church governance but cannot be ordained priests.

By comparison, 75 percent of American Catholics approved of how John Paul II was leading the church in 1994. His approval rose to 84 percent in 1999 but dropped back down to 64 percent at the height of the Church’s sexual abuse crisis. More than 50 percent of American Catholics believed John Paul was out of step with the times in 2003.

Pope Francis’ change in tone and emphasis appears to be attractive even to non-Catholics but, as CNN rightly states, it remains to be seen how long the “honeymoon” will last, especially after it becomes clear that Francis has no intention of changing Church teaching on the hot button issues of the day.

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