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Measuring the “Francis Effect”: in poll, most say they believe pope will attract Catholics back to the Church

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 08/25/15

A new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) offers an interesting snapshot of the “Francis Effect in the U.S., just ahead of his first visit:

More than one year into his papacy, Pope Francis remains popular among the American public. Two-thirds (67%) of Americans have a favorable view of the pope, while 15% say they have an unfavorable view. Nearly one in five (19%) Americans did not offer an opinion about the pope. Views of the Catholic Church are also relatively positive, but significantly less favorable than views of the pope. A majority (56%) of Americans have a favorable view of the Catholic Church, compared to roughly one-third (32%) of Americans who hold unfavorable views of the Catholic Church. …A majority (56%) of Catholics report that their feelings toward the Catholic Church have changed a lot or a little over the last couple of years, roughly the period of Pope Francis’ papacy. Roughly four in ten (42%) Catholics say their feelings have not changed at all over this time period. Notably, among Catholics who say their feelings about the Church have changed, nearly six in ten (59%) say their feelings have become more favorable, while 36% say they have become less favorable. Most Catholics believe Pope Francis will have a positive effect on the Church by spurring engagement among Catholics. Roughly two-thirds (66%) of Catholics say Pope Francis will attract more Catholics back to the Church, compared to only 20% who believe he will not. Fourteen percent remain unsure of the pope’s influence on the Church. However, former Catholics are significantly less optimistic about the pope’s capacity to reengage Catholics. A slim majority (51%) of former Catholics believe the pope will attract more Catholics back to the Church, while 29% say that he will not and 20% offer no opinion.

There’s much more. Read it all.

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