Significant gains for Pope Francis following September U.S. visit

Pope Francis greets people as he arrives to celebrate vespers with priests, men and women religious in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York Sept. 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A Marist Poll survey commissioned by the Knights of Columbus found Pope Francis' favorability made significant gains among Catholics and among Americans overall in the wake of his Sept. 22-27 visit to the United States.

Among practicing Catholics, 90 percent now say they view Pope Francis favorably, up from 83 percent in August, one month before his visit. Among all Americans, the pope's numbers jumped from 58 percent to 74 percent.


Asked if they are clear about Pope Francis' vision for the church, 55 percent of Americans said yes, up from 43 percent, and 88 percent of practicing Catholics said the same, up from 73 percent.

Fifty-six percent of Americans said they now feel better about their own faith because of his visit, including 86 percent of practicing Catholics.

Strong majorities of the respondents said they agreed with the pope on:

-- Supporting religious freedom: 85 percent of Americans surveyed agreed, while 7 percent said they were more likely to agree now than before the papal visit. Of the practicing Catholics surveyed, 87 percent and 7 percent, respectively, shared that view.

-- Being more respectful of the earth and the environment: 84 percent of Americans agreed, and 7 percent were more likely to agree now. For practicing Catholics, the numbers were 81 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

-- Respecting life at every stage of development, including for the unborn: 62 percent of Americans agreed, and 6 percent were more likely to hold that view now. For practicing Catholics, the numbers were 81 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

-- Allowing people to opt out of actions contrary to their religious beliefs: 57 percent of Americans agreed, while 5 percent were more likely to agree now. For practicing Catholics, it was 70 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

-- Upholding marriage as between one man and one woman: 55 percent agreed; an additional 4 percent were more likely to agree now. For practicing Catholics, it was 60 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

There was more divergence among respondents on the death penalty, according to the survey results. Regarding the overall American response, 41 percent agreed with the pope on opposing capital punishment, and an additional 5 percent said they were more likely to agree now; 44 percent disagreed with the pope, and another 4 percent were more likely to disagree now. For practicing Catholics, the numbers on both sides of the issue were similar.

Another survey finding showed that 58 percent of Americans, and 82 percent of practicing Catholics, are more likely to engage in charitable activity as a result of Pope Francis' trip. 

The telephone survey was conducted Oct. 1-9 among 1,095 U.S. adults ages 18 and up, including 269 self-identified Catholics, 160 of whom said they practice their faith. The margin of error in survey results was plus or minus 3 percentage points for Americans, plus or minus 6 percentage points overall for Catholics, and plus or minus 7.7 percentage points for practicing Catholics in that group.

Landline telephone numbers were randomly selected for one survey sample and cellphone numbers were randomly dialed for a second survey sample; the two samples were then combined.

"The data clearly show that Pope Francis' trip to the United States was a success by any measure," said an Oct. 16 statement by Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus. "Not only is the pope viewed more favorably on the heels of the trip, but Americans also feel he made a real difference in their own lives -- motivating them to become more involved in charitable activity, and making them feel better about their own faith."

The Marist Poll is a service of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which operates out of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

During the papal trip, the Knights of Columbus contributed funding and volunteers and covered printing costs for the 350,000 programs used at the Sept. 27 Mass that the pope celebrated to close the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

The 24-page program, printed on recycled paper, was designed as a keepsake for Massgoers, according to the Knights. It included the prayers, readings and music for the Mass -- with portions printed in English, Greek, Latin, Spanish and Vietnamese. On the cover was an image of the Holy Family commissioned for the world meeting.

The Knights also printed prayer cards and booklets related to the Sept. 23 canonization of St. Junipero Serra at an outdoor Mass Pope Francis celebrated on the grounds of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the adjacent campus of The Catholic University of America.

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William Rydberg
3 years 5 months ago
This is good news...
Dudley Sharp
3 years 4 months ago
Pope Francis, US Congress & the Death Penalty Addressing the US Congress, Pope Francis did not give a speech against abortion, which the Catholic Church identifies as the intrinsic evil of murdering the innocent and which no Catholic may support and which occurs a million times a year in the US. The Pope did give a speech against the death penalty, which the Catholic Church identifies as a moral sanction, within 2000 years of Catholic teaching (1), with guilty murderers being executed about 38 times per year in the US, and a sanction that any good Catholic may, morally, support, today (1), and which support may extend to calling for more executions (1), with the rational, factual conclusion that innocents are more protected when the death penalty is retained and used (1), with the primary foundation of justice. With regard to some Catholic anti death penalty statements, Catholic theologian Steven Long places the arrow: " . . . (it) is symptomatic of a society that can garner more support to spare the guilty than to save the innocent." "The crowd still wants Barrabas." (2). Archbishop Charles Chaput: “Both Scripture and long Christian tradition acknowledge the legitimacy of capital punishment . . . " "The Church cannot repudiate (the death penalty) without repudiating her own identity." (3) 2015, Pope Francis calls for the end of capital punishment, in all cases, thereby, according to Chaput, disavowing the Church's identity, as supported . . . Saint (& Pope) Pius V, "The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder." "The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent" (1566). Paramount obedience. From the newest Catholic Catechism CCC 2260 The covenant between God and mankind is interwoven with reminders of God's gift of human life and man's murderous violence: "For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning. . . . Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.This teaching remains necessary for all time." . . . the source for which is the Noahic Covenant, Genesis 9:6, an eternal command, for all peoples and all times, which establishes the sacredness of life as the foundation for death penalty support. ====== Pope Francis' call for an end to the death penalty, worldwide, was an expression, only, of his personal opinion, which is in conflict with both the newest Church teaching (CCC 2267) (1) and with 2000 years of Catholic teachings (1). The newest Church teachings have been confirmed as a prudential judgement (1), with which any faithful Catholic may disagree and support more executions (1), as the rational, factual outcome of protecting more innocent lives (1), with a foundation in justice (1). ====== Please review: The Death Penalty: Mercy, Expiation, Redemption & Salvation ====== 1) Catholic Church: Problems with Her Newest Death Penalty Position: The Catechism & Section 226 2) Four Catholic Journals Indulge in (anti death penalty) Doctrinal Solipsism, Steven Long, THOMISTICA, March 5, 2015 3) "Archbishop Chaput clarifies Church’s stance on death penalty", CNA, Catholic News Agency, Oct 18, 2005. Chaput was then archbishop of Denver, now of Philadelphia


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