SAINT LEO, Fla., Dec. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the latest national survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, Pope Francis enjoys an approval rating of 88 percent among U.S. Catholics.
The pope's overall approval rating stands at 67 percent, with just 13 percent viewing him unfavorably.
"People increasingly seem to be coming to conclusions about Pope Francis, both positively and negatively," said Michael Anthony Novak, assistant professor of theology and religion at Saint Leo University. "There seems to be enough time for initial impressions of him to yield to prolonged experience of this Pope based on his stance on several issues. The shifts in his numbers seem to me to be signs of people getting to know Francis, whether they approve or disapprove of him."
Pope Francis' popularity with self-identified Catholics continues to grow. In four previous quarterly polls the pope's favorability rating was 83 percent (December 2013), 85 percent in March and October 2014, and 88 percent in the current survey. Likewise, for non-Catholics: 55 percent, 63 percent, 54 percent, and 61 percent.
"Both among Catholics and non-Catholics there is a movement from having 'somewhat favorable' opinions of Pope Francis, to 'strongly favorable,' ones," remarked Dr. Novak.
There is also a steady increase in unfavorable numbers for the pope and a decline in the numbers of those who are unsure in their attitudes about him. According to the data, Catholics who have a negative opinion of Pope Francis has grown from 2 to 5 percent and from 11 to 15 percent for non-Catholics over the course of the year.
"Pope Francis' overall approval numbers have been fairly consistent but there is movement from 'cautious' to 'strong' approval. Most striking is the shift in the Catholic statistics," commented Dr. Novak. While the pope's disapproval numbers have doubled in a year (from 2 to 5 percent), his movement over the year among those with "strongly favorable" impressions, has jumped from 48 to 63 percent, while Catholics with only "somewhat favorable" feelings of the pope has dropped from 35 to 25 percent.
The full Saint Leo University Polling Institute national survey results can be found here: http://polls.saintleo.edu. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.
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SOURCE Saint Leo University Polling Institute