Five year after his election, pope draws farming number of negative assessments, specifically from Catholic Republicans


Five years right into Francis’ papacy, the vast majority of U.S. Catholics continue to have a favorable opinion that the Argentinian pontiff, and most say he represents a significant – and also positive – change for the roman Catholic Church. In ~ the very same time, a new Pew Research center survey finds signs of growing discontent through Francis among Catholics ~ above the politics right, with raising shares of Catholic Republicans speak they see Francis unfavorably, and that they think the is also liberal and also naïve.

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Currently, 84% that American Catholics speak they have a “favorable” see of Pope Francis, i m sorry is virtually similar to the share that expressed a confident view of the pope after ~ the an initial year the his pontificate. Furthermore, approximately nine-in-ten U.S. Catholics explain Pope Francis together “compassionate” and also “humble.” and though the re-publishing of Catholics in the U.S. Who think Pope Francis represents a “major change” for the much better is down from a high allude in 2015, almost six-in-ten tho express this view.

But when Francis remains quite popular, there are signs that American Catholics are less enamored through him than was once the case. Because that instance, the share of American Catholics that say Pope Francis is “too liberal” has actually jumped 15 portion points between 2015 and also today, indigenous 19% come 34%. And about a quarter of U.S. Catholics (24%) currently say the is naïve, up from 15% in 2015.


Over the exact same period, the re-superstructure of American Catholics who give Pope Francis “excellent” or “good” marks for his handling of the sex abuse scandal dropped indigenous 55% come 45%. (The inspection was conducted before the current papal visit come Chile and also Peru, which prompted brand-new questions and media coverage around the pope’s dealing with of this issue.) and there have been comparable declines in the share of Catholics who provide the pope optimistic marks because that “spreading the Catholic faith” and “standing up for timeless moral values,” though on balance he proceeds to garner an ext praise 보다 criticism on this fronts.

The survey also finds indicators of farming polarization follow me partisan present in Catholics’ views of Francis. The re-publishing of Republican and Republican-leaning Catholics who say Pope Francis is “too liberal” has much more than doubled since 2015 (from 23% come 55%). Similarly, one-third of Catholic Republicans now say Francis is “naïve,” up from 16% who claimed this in 2015. Amongst Democratic and also Democratic-leaning Catholics, through contrast, there has actually been no statistically significant change in opinion on either of these questions.

In addition, while many Republican Catholics proceed to express a favorable watch of Francis, the re-superstructure who have a favorable check out of the pontiff is down contrasted with the end of his first year in office, 4 years ago. At that time, there to be no discernible difference in between the share of Catholic republic (90%) and Democrats (87%) that expressed a favorable watch of Francis. Today, by contrast, the pope’s favorability rating is 10 points greater among Catholic democracy (89%) than amongst Catholic republicans (79%).

Over the exact same period, the re-publishing of Catholic Republicans that say Francis to represent a major, positive change for the Catholic Church has declined from 60% come 37%. By contrast, there has been small movement since the end of Francis’ an initial year together pope in the re-superstructure of Catholic democracy who watch him together a significant change for the much better (71% this particular day vs. 76% in 2014).


These are among the key findings the a brand-new national survey by Pew study Center, conducted Jan. 10 to 15 among 1,503 adults, consisting of 316 Catholics. Among the U.S. Public together a entirety (including both Catholics and also non-Catholics), around six-in-ten to speak they have actually a favorable watch of Pope Francis, i beg your pardon is top top par with the share of americans who gave Francis a favorable rating in the early summer of 2015 (just before his visit to the U.S.), and also slightly listed below the height of 70% who rated the favorably in February 2015 and again in at an early stage 2017. Contrasted with Francis, Pope Benedict XVI normally earned reduced favorability ratings from the U.S. Windy (except in April 2008, immediately following his U.S. Trip), while Pope man Paul II earned higher ratings native the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s.


Pope Francis’ popularity among Catholics is widespread throughout a variety of Catholic subgroups. The is perceived favorably by most Catholic women and men, as well as by those under age 50 and by older Catholics. (The inspection did not encompass enough interviews v Hispanic Catholics to allow a comparison between them and white Catholics.)

Catholics who attend fixed at the very least once a week offer Francis somewhat higher marks than execute those that attend Mass less often; 56% that weekly fixed attenders speak they have actually a “very favorable” view of the pontiff, compared with 40% among Catholics that attend Mass much less often. Still, large majorities that both teams rate the pope at least “mostly” favorably.

The survey additionally shows that American Catholics are not alone in your admiration the Pope Francis. Two-thirds (67%) the white mainline Protestants and also 58% the religiously unaffiliated adults have positive views of Francis, as do roughly half of black Protestants (53%) and white evangelical Protestants (52%).

There have gone to least two noteworthy shifts in Francis’ ratings amongst non-Catholic groups because his election. White evangelical Protestants have become considerably an ext likely to rate Francis unfavorably: simply one-in-ten white evangelicals (9%) walk this automatically after his election, compared with 28% this day (similar come the 31% who rated him unfavorably around a year ago). And religiously unaffiliated Americans have become more likely to rate Francis favorably (39% in in march 2013, 58% today), back the share who price him favorably has declined somewhat in the previous year, from 71% in January 2017.


Five years into his papacy, most Catholics (67%) proceed to say Pope Francis to represent a significant change in direction for the Catholic Church. This clues a slight decrease since 2015 in the re-publishing who view the pontiff together a major change, through the decrease concentrated amongst those who view Francis as a readjust for the better.

Early ~ above in his papacy, approximately seven-in-ten Catholics saw Pope Francis together a major change in a hopeful direction. Today, 58% the American Catholics share this perspective. Due to the fact that Francis’ previously days over there has likewise been a slight boost in the share that say the pontiff is a major change because that the worse. And also since 2015, the share that say he is not a major change in ~ all has actually ticked up 9 portion points.

Across the board, U.S. Catholics find the pope compassionate and humble

When asked around four distinct attributes that could apply to the pope, the vast majority of U.S. Catholics say “compassionate” (94%) and “humble” (91%) define Francis. This is virtually unchanged from 2015, the critical time Pew Research facility asked these questions. And also these overwhelmingly positive feelings towards the pontiff organize true throughout a wide selection of Catholic subgroups, including men and also women, older and also younger Catholics, consistent Mass-goers and also those who attend religious services less often.

Over the same time period, however, there has been an uptick in the share who say the two an unfavorable descriptors use to the pope. The share of U.S. Catholics who say the pope is “naïve” has actually increased because 2015, from 15% to 24% today. And around a 3rd of U.S. Catholics (34%) to speak Pope Francis is “too liberal,” increase from 19% who said this three years ago.

Catholic republic (as well together those who lean toward the GOP) room far more likely than Catholic Democrats and also Democratic leaners (55% vs. 19%) to say that “too liberal” is an exact descriptor for the pontiff.

Most U.S. Catholics say their parish priests are donate of Pope Francis

A majority of American Catholics say their parish clergymans are donate of Pope Francis, consisting of 55% who say their clergymans are “very” supportive and 23% that say their clergymans are “somewhat” supportive. Simply 2% say your parish clergymans are not as well or not at all supportive that the pope. An additional one-in-five either volunteer the they carry out not attend church often sufficient to gauge their parish priests’ see of the pontiff (6%) or otherwise decline to prize the inquiry (13%).

The re-publishing who check out their parish leadership as an extremely supportive towards Francis is similar across many Catholic subgroups – consisting of Democrats and also Republicans. However Catholics that attend mass at least weekly stand out from those who attend much less often. Fully seven-in-ten Mass-goers (72%) say your parish clergymans are really supportive that the pope, compared with 47% the those who attend less often. Those that attend Mass much less than once a mainly are much less likely to offer an opinion top top the subject.

Pope Francis on the issues

Shrinking majorities the American Catholics offer Pope Francis high point out for dispersing the Catholic faith and standing increase for traditional values

Seven-in-ten U.S. Catholics speak Pope Francis is law a an excellent or wonderful job dispersing the Catholic faith and standing increase for traditional moral values. Roughly six-in-ten (58%) give him high clues on appointing brand-new bishops and cardinals, and 55% speak the same around his managing of environmental issues. Just 45% the Catholics price the pope’s managing of the sex abuse scandal as good or excellent.


While Francis continues to acquire positive ratings on lot of fronts, several of these hopeful ratings have decreased noticeably in the previous three years, and also the share giving him negative ratings has actually increased. ~ above the issue of dispersing the Catholic faith, because that example, just 10% said the pope to be doing one “only fair” or “poor” task in 2015; this particular day 25% give him negative marks. Likewise, U.S. Catholics are twice as most likely today as in 2015 to negatively price Pope Francis’ power standing increase for traditional moral values (26% “only fair” or “poor” today vs. 13% in 2015). And on the worry of the sex abuse scandal within the Catholic Church, 46% speak the pontiff is doing a poor or middling job (roughly same to the re-superstructure who give him hopeful reviews), up from 34% who claimed the exact same three years ago.

Catholics that attend mass weekly or an ext often room far more likely than Catholics who attend services less frequently to positively price the pope’s performance on each worry asked about.

Most view Francis do the church much more accepting, still watch room for him to carry out more

New inquiries on this survey asked Catholics just how much, if anything, lock think Pope Francis has done to make the Catholic Church more accepting the homosexuality and also of divorce and also remarriage. Respondents also were asked even if it is they desire the pontiff come do more or much less in these areas.

Most U.S. Catholics say Francis has done at the very least some to do the church more accepting that homosexuality, consisting of 33% that say he has actually done a lot and also 41% who say he has done a little. Just 16% to speak he has done nothing at all.

Regardless of just how much castle think the pope has currently done in this area, about four-in-ten Catholics (38%) would favor to see him execute more, consisting of 12% that say that has currently done a lot, 21% that say he has done a little, and also 5% that say he has done nothing in this regard. Another three-in-ten Catholics say the Francis has done around the ideal amount in making the church more accepting of homosexuality, with 17% saying the he has done a lot, and 13% saying the he has actually done a little. One-in-ten to speak he has actually done nothing and that they would certainly not choose to view him do more, while just 6% speak they would prefer to see him perform less to increase the Catholic Church’s accept of homosexuality.

About a 4 minutes 1 of U.S. Catholics (26%) speak Francis has actually done a many to do the church more accepting of divorce and remarriage, 43% speak he has done a little in this regard, and 17% say he has actually done nothing. Overall, nearly four-in-ten Catholics (37%) would like to watch the pontiff do much more to boost the church’s acceptance of divorce and remarriage, and also a similar share (34%) say he has actually done at the very least a tiny in this area and also that the is “about the appropriate amount.” smaller shares say he has done nothing and also should do nothing (8%) or the he should be doing much less to do the Catholic Church much more accepting towards divorce and also remarriage (3%).

In their own words – what is the most far-reaching thing Francis has actually done together pope?

Another brand-new question on the inspection asked Catholics come describe, in their own words, the most far-reaching thing Pope Francis has actually done in his time together pope.

In response, American Catholics called a broad range of accomplishments. Around one-in-ten listed Francis’ work in setting a great Christian instance (9%), opening up the church and becoming an ext accepting (9%), and also helping the bad (8%). An additional 7% say his best contribution has been to do the Catholic Church an ext accepting toward gays and lesbians, when 6% cite an international outreach. And 5% speak he is uniting the Catholic community and encouraging open communication and dialogue. Tho others called a wide range of added actions in religious, social, and also political spheres the the pope has undertaken during his very first five years.

Just 4% the U.S. Catholics list negative or neutral actions as Pope Francis’ most far-reaching accomplishment, such as coming to be overly affiliated in politics or alienating conservative Catholics. Another 4% to speak he hasn’t excellent anything far-ranging at all, or that they space still waiting to see what he will do. And three-in-ten American Catholics (29%) volunteer that they execute not recognize or cannot name any far-ranging thing that the pope has actually done.

Catholic trends during Francis’ papacy

Since Francis began his papacy that has enjoyed high favorability ratings indigenous U.S. Catholics; numerous have wonder if his popularity would certainly spur a so-called Francis effect, reinvigorating the Catholic community. Pew Research facility surveys perform not see evidence of this type of effect, at the very least as measure up by the re-superstructure of Catholics in the U.S. Adult populace or the re-superstructure of Catholics who say they to visit Mass regularly, although of food it is possible that Catholic life in the U.S. Has actually been revitalized in methods not measure up in the Center’s surveys.

In 2012 and the an initial two month of 2013, prior to Francis ended up being pope, 22% of U.S. Adults determined as Catholics in Pew Research facility surveys. As of 2017, the Catholic share of U.S. Adult stands at 20%, representing a very slight decline in the in its entirety share that U.S. Adults who space Catholic.

Over the same period, self-reported massive attendance likewise has dipped slightly amongst self-described Catholics. In 2012, 41% the U.S. Catholics claimed they attended fixed weekly or more; now 38% say the same. An additional four-in-ten (42%) to speak they attend a few times a month or several times a year, and one-in-five speak they rarely or never attend Mass.1

The racial and ethnic ingredient of U.S. Catholics likewise shows continued signs that shifting. Catholics today are somewhat much less likely to be non-Hispanic whites 보다 in 2012 (56% now vs. 61% then). And also they space somewhat much more likely to identify as hispanic – 36% of U.S. Catholics now say they are Hispanic, compared with 32% in 2012. These demography changes started well prior to Francis ended up being pope. And also even there is no considering the effects of future immigration to the U.S., data top top the period structure the the U.S. Catholic population suggest the Hispanics will proceed to grow as a re-superstructure of the U.S. Catholic population, because they are significantly younger, ~ above average, than room white Catholics.

U.S. Catholics also have stability become much more supportive of same-sex marriage over the years, and also this has continued because Pope Francis assumed the papacy. In 2001, 40% of Catholics expressed assistance for permitting gays and lesbians come marry legally. Through 2012, just before Francis’ election, the re-publishing of Catholics expressing support for same-sex marriage had grown to 54%, reflecting increased acceptance the same-sex marriage amongst the U.S. Populace writ large. Together of 2017, completely two-thirds the Catholics speak they favor permitting gay and lesbian couples come marry legally.

By comparison, U.S. Catholics’ attitudes about abortion have been fairly stable. Overall, 53% to speak abortion need to be legal in every or many cases, if 44% to speak it must be illegal in all or most cases.

Just prior to Pope Francis presume office, 44% of Catholic registered voters identified as Republican or said they leaned towards the GOP, and also 48% of Catholic voters stated they to be Democrats or leaned towards the democratic Party. This day those numbers are virtually unchanged. And also the re-superstructure of Catholics who determine as conservative, center or for free on the politics spectrum have been likewise stable.

Among white, non-Hispanic Catholic registered voters, however, the Francis years have actually been marked by the extension of a longer-term shift toward the GOP. As of 2008, 49% the white Catholic registered voters in Pew Research facility surveys identified with or leaned toward the democratic Party, if 41% favored the GOP. Due to the fact that then, however, white Catholics’ support for the GOP has steadily increased. By 2012 and also early 2013, just prior to Francis came to be pope, republicans outnumbered democrats by 8 percentage points (50% vs. 42%) among white Catholics. And today, republicans outnumber democracy by 14 clues in this group (54% vs. 40%).

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Most hispanic Catholics, meanwhile, proceed to identify as democracy (64%), while far fewer (27%) speak they room Republicans – tiny changed in recent years. Among Catholics overall, the reality that predominantly autonomous Hispanics are growing as a share of every U.S. Catholics has well balanced out white Catholics’ shift toward the Republican Party.