U.S. adults with a favorable view of Pope Francis dropped sharply from August to September, according to a new Gallup report released Sept. 18.
In early August, Gallup found that 66 percent of all U.S. adults held a favorable opinion of Pope Francis.
Shortly after Gallup published these findings, a mid-August grand jury report revealed “credible allegations against over 300 predator priests” in six Pennsylvania dioceses with “over 1,000 child victims … identifiable, from the church’s own records.”
Then, in late August, a former Vatican ambassador to the U.S. claimed that Pope Francis was aware of, and helped to cover up, sexual abuse allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
When Gallup asked about views of the pope in early September, his favorability dropped 13 percentage points to 53 percent among all U.S. adults.
Non-Catholic responses were the primary cause of this decline, moving from 63 percent in August to 45 percent in September.
U.S. Catholics, meanwhile, held steady in their views, with a 1 percent increase in favorability, up to 79 percent – a statistically insignificant change given the margin of error. Still, this is a 10 percent drop in favorability since 2014.
“The impact of recent controversies on Americans’ attitudes toward Francis is analogous to the impact of a similar scandal on his predecessor, John Paul II,” the Gallup report said. “The percentage of Americans with a favorable view of John Paul fell precipitously from 86 percent in 1998 to 61 percent in 2002, after a sexual abuse scandal was uncovered in 2002.”
The full report is available here.