Francis Effect Fades: Pope’s Approval Drops Most Among Evangelicals
October 4, 2018
The latest abuse investigations have rattled non-Catholics’ perceptions more than Catholics themselves, according to survey data.
American Catholics have been so unsettled by the wave of allegations of decades-old sexual abuse and cover-ups spanning dioceses in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and across the country that the most vocal critics have called for Pope Francis’ resignation.
Their evangelical neighbors, some once enraptured by the popular pope, are also disappointed. According to two recent reports, white evangelical Protestants’ views of Pope Francis and the clergy have fallen even more than Catholics’ after the latest investigations into abuse by priests.
Evangelicals’ approval of Francis dropped more than twice as much as Catholics’ this year, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday.
Just 32 percent of white evangelicals rated the pope favorably last month, down from 52 percent in January, the most dramatic decline among religious groups.
His favorability among US Catholics fell from 84 percent to 72 percent during the same period. Pew also saw declines among white mainline Protestants (67% to 48%) and the unaffiliated (58% to 53%).
Francis now has his lowest approval rating—51 percent of American adults—since he assumed the papacy in 2013.
A Gallup poll last month also found that the latest allegations have damaged views of Francis among those outside the Catholic Church more than those inside it.
Catholic approval of Francis remained relatively steady around 79 percent, according to Gallup, while his favorability among non-Catholics and Americans overall dropped by at least 10 percentage points between August and September (from 63% to 45% and 66% to 53%, respectively).
Further, Gallup reported that Protestants have come to adopt a grimmer view of the church than Catholics.
About half …