Pew: Of U.S. Catholics, 75% approve of Pope Francis even as approval rating falls 8 points from 2021

A Pew poll published Friday found 75% of American Catholics approve of Pope Francis, an 8 point drop from the approval rating in a 2021 Pew poll. Majorities of respondents wanted the church to allow contraception and women priests.Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI
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April 12 (UPI) -- A Pew Research poll published Friday shows 75% of American Catholics have favorable views of Pope Francis. It's a drop of 8 points from a 2021 poll.

Pew said in 2015 Francis had a 90% approval rating from U.S. Catholics. According to the Pew poll, Francis has higher favorable ratings that Pope Benedict XVI, but significantly lower ratings than Pope John Paul II.

Pew's poll found a partisan gap in opinions about Pope Francis.

"The partisan gap in views of Pope Francis is now as large as it's ever been in our surveys," Pew research said in a statement. "Roughly nine-in-ten Catholics who are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party hold a positive view of him, compared with 63% of Catholics who are Republicans or lean Republican."

What unites Americans from across the political spectrum is seeing Pope Francis as a change agent, according to Pew.

Roughly seven-in-ten view him as an agent of change, regardless of political leanings.

The Pew poll found 83% of U.S. Catholics want the church to allow contraception use and 75% say the church should allow communion even if people are unmarried and living with a romantic partner.

Solid majorities in Pew's poll of Catholics in the United States also said priests should be allowed to marry (69%), women should be allowed into the priesthood (64%) and the Catholic church should recognize gay marriage (54%).

Among Republicans or people leaning Republican, though, 72% said the church should not take those steps.

And their were differences of opinion in the Pew poll between Catholics who attend Mass regular versus those who identify as Catholics but do not attend regular Mass.

On allowing birth control, 90% who don't attend regular approve it, while it was 62% of those who attend Mass weekly approving.

For allowing women to be priests weekly Mass attendees opposed it 56%-41% while those who show up less frequently at Mass were for women priests 71%-27%.

On recognizing gay marriage people who attended Mass weekly opposed that 65%-33%. Those attending Mass less supported recognizing gay marriage in the church 61%-37%.