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Pew: Confidence in Pope Francis Plunges Among U.S. Catholics

U.S. Catholics
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis’ approval rating among U.S. Catholics has struck an all-time low in the face of his refusal to answer allegations that he rehabilitated serial homosexual abuser Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Pew revealed Tuesday.

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

A CNN poll earlier this month showed the pope’s approval rating among U.S citizens falling to an all-time low, dropping below 50 percent for the very first time since his election.

Francis’s approval rating of 48 percent represented a significant drop since January 2017, when the pope enjoyed a two-thirds favorable rating, CNN said. In December 2013, the year of his election, Francis’s popularity was higher still, with 72 percent of Americans giving the pope a favorable rating.

According to Tuesday’s Pew report, some 60 percent of American Catholics say that Francis is doing an “only fair” or “poor” job handling the sex abuse scandal. More than half of these say his efforts on this front have been poor.

The survey comes at a time of turmoil for Francis, who has refused to answer allegations that the former papal nuncio to the United States informed the pope of McCarrick’s abuse in 2013 and that the Francis rehabilitated him anyway, elevating him to a position of influence in the Vatican.

On August 25, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò released an 11-page report laying out a series of allegations against a number of high-ranking prelates, including the pope himself. Confronted by journalists about the report, Pope Francis refused to confirm or deny its contents, acknowledging only that he had read the document.

The pope went on to compare his accuser to Satan, while insisting that he would keep silence over the matter, like Jesus on Good Friday.

Francis’ fellow Jesuit, Father Joseph Fessio, the editor of Ignatius Press, said he found this position “deplorable” and told the pope to stop “attacking Vigano and everyone who is asking for answers.”

“Be a man. Stand up and answer the questions,” he said.

The pope’s refusal to answer allegations against him may not be the only thing bothering American Catholics. Francis has also refused requests by the U.S. bishops to open a formal Vatican investigation into the McCarrick case and in this way seems to be hindering rather than helping efforts to get to the bottom of the crisis.

Last month, the president of the U.S. Bishops Conference (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, traveled to Rome to urge Francis to launch the investigation but met with the same refusal.

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