Pew Research Center looks at Pope Francis’ numbers 5 years into his pontificate

At the site of the Pew Research Center you can read about the survey about Pope Francis five years into his pontificate.   The numbers are on the move.   They also, in surveying Americans, break the numbers down according to political leanings.

It also gets into shifting demographics of Catholics in these USA.

Here is a little bit:

Pope Francis Still Highly Regarded in U.S., but Signs of Disenchantment Emerge
Five years after his election, pope draws growing number of negative assessments, especially from Catholic Republicans


Five years into Francis’ papacy, the vast majority of U.S. Catholics continue to have a favorable opinion of the Argentinian pontiff, and most say he represents a major – and positive – change for the Roman Catholic Church. At the same time, a new Pew Research Center survey finds signs of growing discontent with Francis among Catholics on the political right, with increasing shares of Catholic Republicans saying they view Francis unfavorably, and that they think he is too liberal and naïve.


But while Francis remains quite popular, there are signs that American Catholics are less enamored with him than was once the case. For instance, the share of American Catholics who say Pope Francis is “too liberal” has jumped 15 percentage points between 2015 and today, from 19% to 34%. And about a quarter of U.S. Catholics (24%) now say he is naïve, up from 15% in 2015.


Over the same period, the share of Catholic Republicans who say Francis represents a major, positive change for the Catholic Church has declined from 60% to 37%. By contrast, there has been little movement since the end of Francis’ first year as pope in the share of Catholic Democrats who view him as a major change for the better (71% today vs. 76% in 2014).

While Francis is quite popular with Americans overall, analysis of Pew Research Center surveys conducted since he became pope finds no evidence of a rise in the share of Americans who identify as Catholic (22% in 2012, 20% in 2017), and no indication of a Francis-inspired resurgence in Mass attendance. In surveys conducted in 2017, 38% of Catholic respondents say they attend Mass weekly. By comparison, in the year before Francis became pope, 41% of U.S. Catholics reported attending Mass weekly.

There are, however, a number of changes occurring within American Catholicism that were underway before Francis became pope and have continued during his pontificate. For instance, the share of U.S. Catholics who are Hispanic has grown from 32% in the year before Francis became pope to 36% today. The share of U.S. Catholics who favor allowing gays and lesbians to legally marry has grown from 54% in 2012 to 67% in 2017. And while there has been little change in the partisan composition of Catholic voters as a whole, white Catholic registered voters have continued to trend in a Republican direction. As of today, 54% of white Catholic voters identify with or lean toward the GOP, up from 50% in 2012 and early 2013.

Other key findings from the new survey include:

Roughly half of Catholics (55%) say the priests at their parish are “very supportive” of Pope Francis, and an additional 23% say their priests are “somewhat supportive” of the pontiff. Roughly one-in-five self-identified Catholics decline to answer the question or else volunteer that they do not attend church often enough to assess the level of support for Francis among their parish priests. Just 2% say their priests are “not too” or “not at all” supportive of the pontiff.


Catholics who attend Mass at least once a week give Francis somewhat higher marks than do those who attend Mass less often; 56% of weekly Mass attenders say they have a “very favorable” view of the pontiff, compared with 40% among Catholics who attend Mass less often. Still, large majorities of both groups rate the pope at least “mostly” favorably.


This just scratches the surface of the results. Have a look for yourselves. It is fascinating reading.

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  1. The Masked Chicken says:

    I must be in a grumpy mood, today.

    “These are among the key findings of a new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Jan. 10 to 15 among 1,503 adults, including 316 Catholics.”

    So, 20% of those questioned were Catholic!? Of those, how many have read a papal encyclical in the last five years? How many go to confession every two months or so? How many know what the Church actually teaches on homosexuality or homosexual unions?

    67% (the number who support homosexual unions) of Catholics surveyed are clueless.

    All this survey means is that the majority of Catholics in the U. S. are poorly catechized. They may be entitled to an opinion, but it doesn’t seem to be a very informed one. I wonder how many form their opinions from either the MSM or public secular education (how many opinions are shifted by watching EWTN, instead)?

    I hate junk science. This is poor research, not to break down the subjects by knowledge of the questions being asked (oh, but they did ask about politics, as if that should have anything to do about it, although I know for some people, it does).

    America, at the moment, skews liberal on social issues. This survey is nothing but a reflection of that. It is Catholic-lite, since it didn’t ask the questions it should have to make the distinctions it should have.

    The Chicken

  2. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    67% of Catholics support gay “marriage”. Bleh.

  3. People I know — especially non-Catholics — seem to like Pope Francis because they think he represents a break from Catholicity. True, this is purely anecdotal, but it is my impression.

  4. Kathleen10 says:

    While we don’t know how rigorously this study was done, it probably matches pretty well what we can see with our own eyes. It also explains why despite the horror show going on, nothing has been done about it.

  5. frjim4321 says:

    Interesting read, but consistories matter more than polls; and I think PF will have a few more of those … but maybe not, given his aversion to papal security routines. My prayer is for the former.

  6. Southern Catholic says:

    Masked Chicken,

    Remember, this is a survey of Americans, not of Catholics. They most likely set their sample size of Catholics based on previous year of having about 20% Catholic.

    Of the 316 Catholics surveyed, only 120 attend mass weekly or more (38% of the sample). The number is probably far fewer of that 120 that can answer yes to most of those questions.

    The problem with most surveys on anything about Catholics and faith is that the responses are going to be dominated by cultural catholics. So most inferences out of surveys like this are not very credible.

  7. Benedict Joseph says:

    This was a rough read for me. It brings a clear lens to the depth of the problem. It also illuminates what happens when the baptized are deprived of authentic accurate catechesis for over fifty years. The goal is achieved. A Church composed of individuals who do not have a knowledge and an understanding of it doctrine and dogma, principles and tenets is no longer itself and can be easily manipulated. For what purpose?
    Our situation is so much graver than we imagine, and will not be solved in a generation, even if a true course were undertaken at this moment. This is the really long haul to get back to square one.

  8. Absit invidia says:

    When it comes to the secular media asking Catholics anything about their Faith, many Catholics would feel the need to defend all things Catholic, including Pope Francis, even if they personally believed otherwise.

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  11. Chris in Maryland 2 says:

    My sense is that this data indicates that most practicing Catholics – people who live as if God really does exist – and worship Him every Sunday at Mass) don’t approve of Pope Francis.

    Here is my math:

    There are 30.4 million baptized Catholics in the US. He is at 84% approval of these – or 25.5 Million.

    Per recent CARA, only 23% of Catholics go to Mass every Sunday – ie – they act as if God is a real person. That’s only 7 Million.

    So there are 23.4 million non-practicing Catholics. I assume 98% of these favor Francis, and the other 2% don’t think he is radical enough.

    That starts Francis with 22.9 million approve. He needs 2.6 million more, and these are among the practicing Catholics (go to Mass every Sunday). So he gets 2.6 million out of 7 million practicing Catholics, or 37%.

    Thst is, 63% of practicing Catholics view Francis unfavorably.

    And the number would be, and could get, a lot worse for him, as more and more otherwise sympathetic people learn of the harm he is doing.

  12. teomatteo says:

    What sin is it if the pope pops up in a conversation and i know the person i am speaking with is liberal (catholic) and before they give me their view of our current pope I say: “it is my observation that most people who loved pope Benedict were more of the educated, well- read -learned types whereas, the Pope Francis backers are more…how do i say it… less educated, not big on catholic reading…simpler.”
    Now what sin is that?

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