Poll Shows Pope Francis Very Popular With American Catholics

85% Express Favorable View of Him After 1 Year on Throne of St. Peter

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The Pew Research Center released today results on surveys about Pope Francis. Among the findings, the survey shows that a large majority of American Catholics feel favorably about the Pope and that many of them (71%) think he represents a «major change in direction» for the Church.

The study considers attitudes and opinions about the Pope in the lead-up to the one-year anniversary of his election, March 13.

The survey considers the so-called Francis effect, a term to describe a reported upsurge in Catholics practicing their faith, for example, by going to confession after a long time away, or going to Mass more regularly. The study did find that some 40% of American Catholics report praying more regularly in the last year, but that numbers are not significantly up when it comes to confession or Mass attendance.

«There also is broad consensus among Catholics that Francis represents a major change in direction for the church, and that this is a change for the better. Large majorities of men and women, Catholics in all adult age groups, and both regular Mass attenders and more infrequent Mass-goers express this view,» Pew reports.

Reflecting the way American Catholics understand Church doctrine, as many as 56% of those polled expected that by the year 2050, the Church will have definitely or probably changed her teaching on birth control. Some 36% have that same expectation regarding same-sex «marriage.»

The full results of the poll, as well as a look at media coverage of Francis’ first year, can be seen here: http://www.pewforum.org/2014/03/06/catholics-view-pope-francis-as-a-change-for-the-better/

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Kathleen Naab

United States

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