Pope Francis Fails to Inspire, Poll Reveals

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By Athena Yenko | March 7, 2014 5:44 PM EST

Through a poll conducted with phone interviews of 1,340 Americans from Feb 14 to 23, Pew Research Center found that  Pope Francis is "immensely popular among American Catholics," but not  inspiring enough to increase the number of Catholics to attend Mass or do volunteer work.

"There has been no measurable rise in the percentage of Americans who identify as Catholic. Nor has there been a statistically significant change in how often Catholics say they go to Mass," the survey said.

Forty per cent of those interviewed said they were now praying more often; 26 per cent said they were more excited about their faiths because of the pope but the frequency of making a confession or volunteering for church has not improved.

On the other hand, 42 per cent of those interviewed said they occasionally attend mass, while 18 per cent admitted never going to church.

Eighty-five per cent said that Pope Francis' leadership is favourable, 51 per cent said the pope is "very favourable" and only 4 per cent showed negative opinion about him.

Pope Francis' favorable rating of 85 per cent is far behind late Pope John Paul's favourable ratings in 1990 and 1996 at 93 per cent.

His low favourable ratings stemmed from the 54 per cent who expressed disappointment with how Pope Francis was addressing the clerical sexual abuse shrouding the Church.

In an interview with a local daily for his anniversary celebration, Pope Francis acknowledged that child sex abuse by Catholic priests caused "very deep wounds."

But he immediately defended the Church by saying that the church is ''perhaps the only public institution to have moved with transparency and accountability.''

''No one else has done more, but the church is the only one to be attacked," Pope Francis said.

The American Catholics were not the only ones disappointed with Pope Francis in as far as priests' sexual abuse is concern.

In Australia, Broken Rites spokeswoman Chris MacIsaac said the Pope's statement implied that the Catholic Church was still in denial about the rampant sexual abuse.

''For the Catholic Church to claim that they are perhaps the only public institution to have moved with transparency and accountability in regard to sexual abuse shows that their church leaders are still in denial of the facts,'' she told Brisbane Times.

She pointed out that the victims of the priests were the ones who spoke of the abuse. The church had yet to report crimes to the police.

''Clergy have been and are being found guilty of committing crimes against children but only as a result of victims coming forward. Where is the church's transparency and accountability here?''

On a positive note, Pew Research found that 81 per cent of the interviewees believed that the pope was spreading Catholic faith well. They said he uphold traditional moral values effectively.

Seventy per cent were satisfied on how the Pope addressed the needs of the poor.

Fifty-one per cent of the non-Catholics who were interviewed for the poll said that the Pope is a representation of "a major change for the better.

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