Here's What America Thinks of Pope Francis

Sep 03, 2015

Pope Francis is a popular pope.

A poll released Thursday from Quinnipiac University found that 66% of Americans have either a "favorable" or "very favorable" view of the Pope, who arrives in America in late September.

The Pope's popularity crosses wide—and often surprising—swaths of American society. While it might not come as a shock that 87% of Catholics are fans of the Pope, 61% of Protestants and 63% of people who follow "no religion" count themselves as Francis fans.

"Pope Francis is sparking a resurgent confidence in the Catholic Church as more Catholics, Protestants and those with no religion believe the Vatican is steering The Church in the right direction," Tim Malloy, assistant director of the poll, said in a statement.

Pope Francis's leadership of the Catholic Church has presented a clear gender divide, with women in favor of the pontiff more than men. While 69% of female respondents had positive views of Pope Francis, 63% of males felt the same.

The poll found that 76% of Catholic women felt the Catholic Church was moving in the right direction, compared to 62% of Catholic men. The gender divide played out again when adult Catholics were asked if church leaders were in touch with modern American Catholics: 57% of women felt so, compared to 47% of men.

The poll's results come a day after the Pew Research Center released a survey of the changing state of American Catholicism. While 9 out of ten American Catholics believe a household headed by married heterosexual parents is ideal, growing segments of the faith are willing to accept non-traditional families—whether they be unmarried heterosexuals, gay or lesbian couples, single parents, or divorced individuals.

The Pew study points to an American Catholicism that is much more flexible than ever before and has embraced Pope Francis—whose popularity among even ex-Catholics and those who consider themselves "cultural" Catholics is strong (at 59% and 73%, respectively). Francis' liberal bent and willingness to address contemporary social issues like gay marriage, abortion, poverty, and climate change have made him an icon that transcends the religion. And within the faith, Catholics believe the Church must address these issues, with overwhelming majorities saying the Catholic Church should allow for birth control and acceptance of divorce.

Much of this support for the Church's direction come from Millennials, with older generations—particularly those in the 65-and-over bracket—being much more reluctant to bending from conservative views. But Catholics are increasingly positive that by 2050, the Church will change its views on contraception, cohabitation, and maybe even gay marriage, respondents said.

Read next: The Top 4 Misconceptions About Pope Francis

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The Most Surprising Photos of Pope Francis

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The wind lifts Pope Francis' mantle as he delivers his speech in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, on Sept. 26, 2015.Tony Gentile—AP
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Pope Francis Birthday
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Italy - Religion - Pope Francis leads Worldwide Eucharistic Adoration
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Pope Francis attends the opening of the Pastoral Convention of the Diocese of Rome at the Vatican
Pope Francis waves as he leaves Guanabara Palace where he attended a welcoming ceremony in Rio de Janeiro
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican
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Catholic faithful with sticker bearing an image of Pope Francis on his forehead looks on while waiting for the Pope to arrive in Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro
Pope Francis is projected on screens at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro
Pope Francis is pictured inside his plane before departing from Rio de Janeiro at Galeao Air Base
Brazil Pope Photo Gallery
Pope Francis in Brazil
Vatican, St. Peter's Square - General Audience of Pope Francis
Pope Francis wears a firefighter helmet as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican
Pope Francis is silhouetted against window light at the end of a meeting at the Vatican
Pope Francis photographed in the Vatican, Rome, Italy in November-December, 2013. Pope Francis was chosen as TIME Magazine's 2013 Person of the Year.
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Pope Francis reacts as he leads a Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican
A dove released during an Angelus prayer conducted by Pope Francis, is attacked by a seagull at the Vatican
A scarf thrown by faithful is seen on the face of Pope Francis during the general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican
Italy - Feature - First Pope Francis graffiti murales appears in Rome
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Italy - H.M Queen Elisabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh meets Pope Francis
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The wind lifts Pope Francis' mantle as he delivers his speech in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, on Sept. 26

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