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Report: Pope’s Popularity Plummets; Gates, Putin, Now More Admired Than Pontiff

The immense popularity enjoyed by Pope Francis ever since his election in 2013 has precipitated sharply during the past year, and he no longer ranks among the top ten most admired men in the world, according to a massive new study involving 31,000 interviews.

According to a study released this week by YouGov, an international market research firm based in the UK, from 2015 to 2016 the Pope experienced the most dramatic drop in popularity of any public figure, falling from sixth to 13th place.

Even in his native Argentina, the Pope was the fourth most popular man, behind the Dalai Lama, and Argentine soccer players Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez.

According to the report, American billionaire Bill Gates and Russian President Vladimir Putin both have better numbers than the pontiff, and the Dalai Lama, David Beckham and scientist Stephen Hawking edged past the Pope as well.

YouGov ranks the world’s 20 most admired men and women separately, and found Angelina Jolie to be the most admired woman in the world for the second year in a row, followed by Queen Elizabeth II and Hillary Clinton.

Pope Francis does, however, remain the second-most admired man in the United States after President Barack Obama.

Although YouGov does not ask people to give reasons for their preferences, the group hazards the guess that the pope’s drop may be explained by “expectations of reform” that distanced Francis from his predecessors, which have waned as the Argentine pontiff becomes “institutionalized.”

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter  

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