Pope Francis’ recent trip to the United States has given the Roman Catholic Church’s image a boost, particularly among liberals, a new Pew Research Center survey has found. Ideological liberals, moderates and Democrats were among the groups that had the most improved views of the church after the pontiff passed through last month, the survey revealed.
According to Pew, 28 percent of adults in the U.S. had a more favorable view of the Catholic Church as a result of the pope’s visit, while only 6 percent said they had a more negative view. But the vast majority of Americans -- 58 percent -- said their view of the church did not change much at all.
Americans’ religious affiliation did not have much bearing on whether the pope’s trip had a positive effect on their views of the church, but their political affiliation did. Both Catholics and non-Catholics were equally likely to say that Francis had improved their opinion of the church, but those who identified themselves as liberals, moderates and Democrats were more likely to be favorably affected.
Among liberals, 39 percent said their view of the church was improved, while 31 percent of moderates said the same. Meanwhile, just 22 percent of conservatives said that they had a more favorable view of the church thanks to the pope’s visit.
Francis’ own favorability received a modest boost among Americans: In June, 64 percent of American adults had a favorable view of the pope, while the new Pew survey found that 68 percent of American adults had a favorable view in October. It was mostly non-Catholics who helped boost that figure; 65 percent of Catholics had a favorable view of the pope, compared with 64 percent back in February.
The Pew survey was conducted between Oct. 1 through Oct. 4. The sample size included 1,000 adults nationally were were contacted via landline and mobile phone. Pope Francis visited Washington, New York and Philadelphia at the end of September for a six-day trip.