A Pew Research Center poll finds Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States has generated positive views about the Catholic Church, particularly among Democrats and liberals.
“Ideological liberals and moderates, along with Democrats, are especially likely to say Francis has given them a more positive view of the Catholic Church,” states Pew.
While both Catholics and non-Catholics, and Democrats and Republicans, are inclined to say Pope Francis has had a positive impact on their perception of the Church, those who say their view of the Church has improved more often self-identify as liberal, moderate, and Democrat.
Among liberals, 39 percent say their view of the Church is more positive because of Pope Francis, while 4 percent say the Pope has led them to a more negative view of the Church.
The survey finds that, among ideological moderates, 31 percent say their view of the Church has improved because of Francis, while 5 percent say it is more negative. Meanwhile, among conservatives, 22 percent have a more positive view of the Church due to the Pope while 10 percent say their view is more negative.
When political affiliation is a factor, a similar divide is found in the survey results. Among Republicans, 27 percent say Pope Francis has had a positive impact on their perception of the Catholic Church and 10 percent say their view is more negative.
Among Democrats, however, 35 percent say their view of the Church is more positive because of Francis, while only 2 percent say their view is more negative.
According to Pew, Pope Francis’ favorability rating rose four percentage points from 64 percent to 68 percent since June, with the increase attributed primarily to his rise in favorability among non-Catholics. About 65 percent of non-Catholics now hold a favorable perception of Pope Francis.
Among Catholics, 81 percent say their view of the Pope is favorable, which is down five percentage points from 86 percent in June. In February, however, 90 percent of Catholics expressed a positive view of Francis. Pew observes the following:
The data do suggest…that Francis’ declining favorability rating among Catholics is mainly due to the changing views of regular Mass-attending Catholics. Among the 97 Catholics interviewed who say they attend Mass at least once a week, 84% have a favorable view of Pope Francis – down since February, when fully 95% of regular Mass-attending Catholics expressed a favorable view of the pontiff. Mass-attending Catholics have not become significantly more likely to express unfavorable views of Pope Francis; rather, they are now more likely to say they have no opinion.
“The data also show that among the public as a whole, including both Catholics and non-Catholics, Francis is more popular among Democrats than either Republicans or Independents,” says Pew.