Americans' opinions of Pope Francis have dropped sharply since the Pennsylvania state attorney general's report about allegations of sexual abuse by priests, a new Gallup poll reveals.
In August, Americans overall had a 66 percent positive opinion about the pontiff, but now the rating is down to 53 percent. The rating has not dropped among Catholics, however, according to the survey conducted from Sept. 4-12 from a random sample of 1,035 adults.
The numbers come after the Pope was confronted with a call for his resignation, after claims were made from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a former Papal Nuncio to the U.S., that the pontiff knew about sanctions imposed by former Pope Benedict XVI on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, but had concealed them.
By the numbers:
- Catholics: 79 percent positive view; 12 percent negative.
- Non-Catholics: 45 percent favorable, compared with 63 percent in August and 72 percent in 2014.
The shift in attitudes toward Pope Francis are comparable to the effects of a similar scandal on late Pope John Paul II. Then, the percentage of Americans with a favorable view fell from 86 percent in 1998, to 61 percent in 2002.
Francis remains more popular than Benedict, however. In Gallup's final poll about Benedict, just 40 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion about him, and 35 percent viewed him unfavorably.
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