Poll: over 90% of U.S. Catholics have favorable view of pope and the Church

For those who track these sorts of things, some interesting numbers, as reported in the Washington Post:

U.S. Catholics are happier with their church and their pope than they’ve been with either in at least a decade, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that also finds Pope Francis at least as popular with Catholics today as Pope John Paul II was even at his peak in such surveys.

Among Catholics, 92 percent have a favorable view of Francis and 95 percent say the same of the church, a poll released Wednesday finds. Francis’ popularity marks a large increase from former Pope Benedict’s 73 percent favorable rating in a February Post-ABC poll just after he announced his retirement.

The jump in popularity is led by Catholics with moderate and liberal political views.

Ninety-four percent of Catholics who identify as moderate or liberal say they have favorable views of Francis compared with 73 percent who said the same of Pope Benedict after he announced his retirement in February. Among politically conservative Catholics, 91 percent are favorable toward Francis, compared with 84 percent who said the same of Benedict in February.

Francis has triggered a huge wave of interest since taking office in March, swelling crowds at his weekly addresses, generating many millions of social media followers, and becoming the focus of countless articles being written around the globe about his welcoming approach to faith. Tangible effects so far are unclear, however, and one recent survey found no immediate impact in the percent of Americans who say they’re Catholic or who say they attend Mass.

Non-Catholics also voice largely positive views of Francis — 62 percent favorable and 18 percent unfavorable; 21 percent have yet to form an opinion. Benedict drew only 48 percent favorable views among non-Catholics immediately after announcing his resignation in February, while 31 percent saw him unfavorably.

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