Pew Director: Pope’s Negative Ratings Tripled for Mishandling Clergy Sex Abuse

Pope Francis
AFP Tiziana FABI

Pope Francis’s plunging approval ratings are primarily a reflection of how he has handled the clerical sex abuse crisis, said the director of the Pew Research Center Monday.

In a SiriusXM radio interview on the Catholic Channel on Monday, Pew director Alan Cooperman told host John L. Allen Jr. that the pope’s negative ratings had tripled, which is directly related to the way he has dealt with the sexual abuse crisis in the Church.

As Breitbart News reported last month, the pope’s approval rating among U.S. Catholics has plunged to an all-time low in the face of his refusal to answer allegations that he rehabilitated serial homosexual abuser Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Only 30 percent of Catholic adults say Francis is doing an “excellent” or a “good” job addressing the sex abuse crisis, the Pew Research Center found in its most recent survey on the issue, a decline of 24 points since 2015 and 14 points from when Pew last asked the question this past January.

Similarly, a CNN poll in September showed the pope’s approval rating among U.S citizens falling to an all-time low, dropping below 50 percent for the first time since his election in 2013.

This week, the pope forbade the U.S. bishops from voting on new measures to address clerical sex abuse, a move that can only bring his approval ratings lower still. Even the bishops themselves expressed consternation over the surprising Vatican intervention.

According to the papal ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the reason for the last-minute suspension of the vote was Francis’s concern for “communion,” meaning he wants the whole Church to move together rather than having national bishops’ conferences make their own policies — a justification that many observers find untenable.

The pope has convoked the presidents of the national Catholic bishops’ conferences to meet with him in Rome next February to discuss what can be done worldwide to address the issue.

More and more people, however, are seeing Pope Francis as part of the problem rather than part of the solution when it comes to clerical sex abuse.

Not only has Francis refused to answer allegations against him personally; he has also denied requests by the U.S. bishops to open a formal Vatican investigation into the McCarrick case. In September, the president of the U.S. Bishops Conference (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, traveled to Rome to urge Francis to launch the investigation but returned to the U.S. empty-handed.

“Back in 2014, 54 percent of American Catholics thought he was doing a good or excellent job,” Mr. Cooperman said Monday. “Today it’s down to just 3 in 10, 30 percent of U.S. Catholics giving him a good or excellent, dropping 24 points in four years, 14 points just from the beginning of 2018.”

In comparison to previous popes, Francis is not seen particularly well, Cooperman said.

“For a while, he had a far higher favorability than Benedict, but I think that now he’s dropped down to Benedict’s level and even below it,” he said.

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