Apparently, positive messages from religious leaders still gets approval from the general population; according to the most recent YouGov Omnibus survey, a full 50% of Americans have a positive impression of Pope Francis.
Conducted from November 28 to December 2, the survey was conducted online, with a total sample size of 1170 people; all were eighteen or over, and figures have been weighted to represent all US adults.
The survey found that of Americans aged 55 and over, 55% have a somewhat positive or very positive impression of the current pope; of the atheists surveyed, 70% had a very positive view of him. Within the Catholic community, 7% had a negative view of the pope—compared to only 4% of atheists.
Pope Francis has made headlines across the world for his relatively liberal views; though he has expressed disapproval of legally recognized same-sex relationships, when asked directly about his view regarding the LGBT community, he replied, “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?”
The survey also found that 65% of Americans agree with the pope’s statement regarding gay people in faith communities; only 12% said that they strongly or somewhat disagreed with the message. A slightly smaller number—63%—of atheists agreed with the statement. Among Protestants, nearly all agreed with it; 43% said they strongly agreed, while 67% said they somewhat or strongly agreed.
One firmly conservative view that the pope has held on to is considering the ordination of women; he has said that he would not currently consider it. Of everyone surveyed, only 24% agreed with the decision; of women, 42% stated that they somewhat or strongly disagreed with the refusal to consider allowing priestesses.
Pope Francis has also been very vocal in speaking out against unrestrained capitalism, which he calls the “new tyranny.” He has also urged leaders around the world to fight against poverty and wage gap increases. Nearly half of the survey respondents, 48 percent, agreed with his views on capitalism; only 24 percent agreed. Most likely to disagree were people who earned over $80,000 a year; of those, 33 percent said they somewhat or strongly disagreed.
Pope Francis’ approval scores are considerably higher than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI; only 22% of Americans reported still feeling positively about him. The former pope has the least popularity among the 18-24 age group, with 40% reporting a somewhat or very negative impression of him. In contrast, 39 percent of Catholics felt positively towards him, while only 13 percent felt negatively; among atheists, 63 percent had a negative impression.