Pope Francis is the most talked about person in the world. He has been on the cover of almost every magazine, he makes the news almost every week, and he is a Twitter and Facebook sensation. He drew huge crowds in Rio de Janeiro and continues to draw large crowds in Rome.
But what impact is he actually having on the life of the church? In an attempt to answer that question, the Pew Research Center Religion & Public Life surveyed Americans’ views of Pope Francis in February.
People overwhelming like the pope. Eighty-five percent of Catholics and 60 percent of non-Catholics view the pope favorably, numbers that would make politicians green with envy. Among Catholics, Pope Francis’ ratings are up there with those of Pope John Paul II, who had favorable ratings between 91 and 93 percent in 1987, 1990, and 1996.
The favorable ratings are across generations, with the youngest cohort (18-39 years) just slightly less enthusiastic than the oldest cohort (60-plus). One would have expected exactly the opposite, with the more liberal young people more favorable to Francis than their conservative elders. Those who attend church weekly are also more favorable (89 percent) toward Francis than those who attend less often (84 percent). Again, we might have expected the opposite. Perhaps the young and those attending church less are simply paying less attention to Francis…