Here’s some good news: Even Pope Francis, the recipient of all kinds of undeserved positive press, has seen his popularity plummet in the wake of the latest round of Catholic Church child sex abuse revelations.
Gallup notes that only 53% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the pope, down from 76% at his peak in early 2014, and in a virtual tie with the 52% rating he had when first elected to the position and no one knew much about him.
Among Catholics, however, his reputation hasn’t really wavered. It’s at 79% which represents something of a midpoint for him as far as his followers go. (The number has wavered between 71% and 89% over the years.)
Among non-Catholics, his favorability is at an all-time low of 45%.
These data come from Gallup’s latest survey, conducted Sept. 4-12, as the Roman Catholic Church faced continued fallout from the Pennsylvania state attorney general’s report on allegations of sexual abuse by priests. A few weeks before the survey, Francis himself was confronted with a public call for his resignation over claims he had concealed allegations of sexual abuse leveled at a cardinal in the U.S.
Gallup also notes that Pope John Paul II hit a record low of 61% shortly after the Spotlight investigations were public, but Pope Francis is still doing slightly better than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who was at 40% favorability shortly before he stepped down.
The Washington Post notes that there’s a slight difference between Gallup’s results and a poll taken by CNN.
The Gallup and CNN polls differ on whether Francis’s popularity has decreased among Catholics. Gallup finds the fall in favorable ratings concentrated among non-Catholics, while the CNN survey suggests a significant drop among both Catholics and the broader public.
As long as it’s going down, it’s going in the right direction. Hard to imagine why anyone would support the head of a criminal enterprise, with more bad behavior exposed with every new report, and plenty of new reports just waiting in the wings.