Poll Examines Views of Pope Francis after 1st Year

Updated: 03/06/2014 8:44 AM
Created: 03/06/2014 8:38 AM
By: Jennie Olson

It’s been almost one year since Pope Francis was chosen to lead the Catholic Church. He’s proven to be popular among Catholics and many non-Catholics.

But has he really made a difference?

A new poll says yes – and no.

Pope Francis is incredibly popular, especially based on his Twitter account and the massive audiences that attend whenever he speaks. People see a change, and most say it’s a change for the better.

About one year in, Pope Francis is about as popular as Pope John Paul II was in the 80s and 90s. In fact, a magazine dedicated entirely to Pope Francis was launched this week in Italy. Each week it will include a pull-out poster with one of the Pope’s memorable quotes. The editors say they’re hoping to reach Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Here at home, the new study from the Pew Research Center says 85 percent of Catholics in the United States have a favorable view of the Pope; seven in 10 U.S. Catholics also say Pope Francis represents a major change in direction, and it’s a change they like.

Many believe the Pope’s popularity is re-energizing American Catholics and are calling it the Francis Effect, but the study shows that the Francis Effect may not be quite as strong as many thought; though many Catholics now feel more excited about their faith, there’s been no real change in the percentage of Americans who identify as Catholics.

The study also shows that Catholics aren’t going to Mass more often under the new Pope.

Pope Francis listens to a speaker delivering his message translated in different languages during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.
Photo: AP/Alessandra Tarantino

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