US Catholics who view Pope Francis favorably plunged from 89% to 71%. Poll dates, July 8-12, 2015. Gallup notes numbers may rise after he visits the US in Sept. and becomes "the first Pope to address a joint session of Congress."
7/22/15, "Pope Francis' Favorable Rating Drops in U.S.," Gallup Poll, Art Swift
"59% have favorable view of pope, down from 76% in February 2014
Christians, conservatives fueling the drop in favorability
Francis seen more favorably than Benedict, less so than John Paul II"
"Pope Francis' favorability rating in the U.S. has returned to where
it was when he was elected pope.
It is now at 59%, down from 76% in
early 2014. The pontiff's rating is similar to the 58% he received from
Americans in April 2013, soon after he was elected pope.
After Pope Francis was elected the leader of the 1.2 billion-member
Roman Catholic Church in March 2013, he attempted to focus the church on
a renewed sense of protecting the poor, on interfaith relations and on
respecting gay and lesbian members of the church. He was lauded in the
American news media, with accolades including Time magazine
naming him the Person of the Year in 2013.
The next time Gallup asked
about Pope Francis, in February 2014, his favorability had swelled to
In the current poll, conducted July 8-12, Francis' favorable rating
declined, while his unfavorable rating increased to 16% from 9% in 2014.
One-quarter of Americans say they have never heard of him or have no
opinion, up from 16% in 2014. Now removed from the plaudits of 2013 and
the high ratings of 2014, it appears that fewer Americans know enough
about the pope to be able to rate him.
Pope's Image Among Catholics and Conservatives Worsens
The drop in the pope's favorable rating is driven by a decline among
Catholics and political conservatives, two groups that have been ardent
supporters of the modern papacy. Seventy-one percent of Catholics say
they have a favorable image of Francis, down from 89% last year.
Pope Francis' drop in favorability is even starker among Americans
who identify as conservative -- 45% of whom view him favorably, down
sharply from 72% last year. This decline may be attributable to the
pope's denouncing of "the idolatry of money" and linking climate change
partially to human activity, along with his passionate focus on income
inequality--all issues that are at odds with many conservatives'
The pope's image has taken a hit among liberals and moderates as
well. Francis' favorable rating among liberals fell 14 percentage
points. Many liberals have criticized the pope for not embracing
ordination of women as priests or allowing priests to marry. His papacy
is still relatively new, however, and in time he may address these
long-standing doctrinal questions more fully.
Francis' Ratings Higher Than Benedict's, but Below John Paul's
Pope Francis' 59% favorable rating exceeds the 40% who viewed Pope
Benedict XVI favorably in 2010, before he retired in early 2013 after an
eight-year papacy. Benedict was plagued by priest abuse scandals in the
last years of his papacy. Americans' views of Benedict were higher
before 2010, but never as high as the 76% achieved by Francis last year.
In contrast, Pope John Paul II, who served as the spiritual leader of
the Roman Catholic Church for nearly 27 years, always polled above 60%
in the 1990s and 2000s, reaching a high of 86% favorability in late
1998. The 64% who have viewed Francis favorably throughout his papacy is
below John Paul's average of 72%.
Also, a higher percentage of Americans say they have never heard of
Francis than said the same about John Paul II. However, on average, a
significantly higher percentage of Americans said they had never heard
of Pope Benedict, reaching 39% in 2005.
Pope Francis is still viewed favorably among Americans, but his image
has declined since early 2014.
The decline in his favorable rating
reflects, in part, the increase in the percentage of Americans who don't
have an opinion of the pope, but also a sharp drop in favorable
opinions among Catholics and political conservatives.
Pope Francis' image may rebound once he makes his first visit to the
U.S. in September. The pope will be traveling to New York, Philadelphia
and Washington, D.C., and will be the first pope to address a joint
session of Congress. Pope John Paul II's image was boosted by his trips
to the U.S. in 1993 and 1999, and Pope Benedict received his greatest
favorability rating -- 63% -- when he visited the U.S. in 2008."
"Historical data for this question may be found in Gallup Analytics.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews
conducted July 8-12, 2015, with a random sample of 1,009 adults, aged 18
and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of
sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50%
cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional
minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular
telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
View complete question responses and trends."
Dec. 2014, "Three-Quarters of Americans Identify as Christian," Gallup