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Pope Francis speaking in the White House - 23 Sept. 2015

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Poll: Pope’s US Trip Brings Catholics to Fuller Embrace of Church Teaching

Survey Shows 90% of American Catholics Love Pope Francis

A new Knights of Columbus-Marist poll finds that Americans embraced Pope Francis as a result of his visit — both in terms of their opinion of him and their connection with him on a host of issues.

Two-thirds of Americans (66%) saw the Pope’s trip as mostly about values. Less than a quarter saw it as mostly political (24%). Among practicing Catholics the numbers were even higher (80% to 18%, respectively). 

Following the trip, a majority of 55% say they are clear about his vision for the Church. This includes almost 9 in 10 practicing Catholics (88%). By contrast, in April, 43% of Americans and 73% of practicing Catholics said the same.

Pope Francis’ Catholic values resonated even on the most controversial of issues, as strong majorities of Americans align with his message and say they agree with Pope Francis that:

  • • We should support religious freedom — 85% agree; an additional 7% are more likely to agree now than prior to the papal visit. (Among practicing Catholics, these numbers are 87% and 7%, respectively.)
  • • We should be more respectful of the earth and the environment — 84% agree; an additional 7% are more likely to agree now. (Among practicing Catholics, these numbers are 81% and 10%, respectively.)
  • • We should support life at every stage of development, including for the unborn — 62% agree; an additional 6% are more likely to hold that view now. (Among practicing Catholics, these numbers are 81% and 5%, respectively.)
  • • We should allow people to opt out of taking actions that go against their religious beliefs — 57% agree; an additional 5% are now more likely to agree. (Among those who are practicing Catholics, these numbers are 70% and 6%, respectively.)
  • • We should view marriage as between one man and one woman — 55% agree; an additional 4% are now more likely to agree. (Among practicing Catholics, these numbers are 60% and 7%, respectively.)

Only on the death penalty did Americans divide. Forty-one percent agree with the Pope that we should oppose the death penalty, and an additional 5% are more likely to agree now. Forty-four percent disagree, and an additional 4% are more likely to disagree now. The numbers were similar for practicing Catholics.

“Pope Francis’ presentation of Catholic values resonated in the minds and hearts of the American people,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “His ability to generate so much consensus on such a diverse number of issues, some of which are seen as very complicated here, speaks to his ability to preach Gospel values convincingly, in our country and in our time.”

In addition, the survey found that the trip dramatically increased the Pope’s favorability among Americans. Almost three quarters of Americans now view him favorably (74%), up from a strong 58% in August. Among practicing Catholics, he is viewed favorably by 90%, up from 83% in August. 

A majority of Americans (56%) also now feel better about their own faith because of Pope Francis’ visit, including more than 8 in 10 practicing Catholics (86%). 

Almost six in 10 Americans (58%) are more likely to engage in charitable activity as a result of the trip, including more than 8 in 10 practicing Catholics (82%).

The survey found that almost eight in 10 Americans (78%) — and more than 9 in 10 practicing Catholics (96%) — also followed coverage of the Pope’s trip at least “a little,” with 7 in 10 practicing Catholics (70%) saying they followed the coverage “a great deal” or “a good amount.”

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This survey of 1,095 adults was conducted October 1st through October 9th, 2015, by The Marist Poll and sponsored and funded in partnership with the Knights of Columbus. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the continental United States were interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. Both landline and mobile telephone numbers were randomly selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. Results are statistically significant within ±3.0 percentage points. There are 269 completed interviews with Catholic Americans, and 160 completed interviews with Catholic Americans who practice their faith. The results for these subsets are statistically significant within ±6.0 percentage points and ±7.7 percentage points, respectively. The error margin was not adjusted for sample weights and increases for cross-tabulations.

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