- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pope Francis’ recent visit to America boosted the favorability ratings of the Catholic Church among many American adults — especially Catholics, Democrats and liberals, a new survey says.

Overall, 28 percent of Americans said their view of the Catholic Church was now “more positive” because of Pope Francis’ September visit, Pew Research Center said Wednesday.

Another 6 percent of the 1,000 adults surveyed Oct. 1-4 said their view of the church had become “more negative,” while 58 percent said their view of the church had not changed.

Catholics had the strongest reaction — 50 percent said Francis’ visit to the District, New York City and Philadelphia heightened their approval of their church. Another 41 percent said the visit did not change their views of their church, and 5 percent said it made them more negative.

When broken down by political affiliation, Democrats and liberals were most likely to say Francis’ visit was pivotal — 35 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of liberals said his visit made them view the Catholic Church more positively.

Many Republicans (27 percent), independents (26 percent), and conservatives (22 percent) also said the pope’s visit was a positive influence on their view of the Catholic Church.

But these three groups also registered the strongest negativity, with around 10 percent in each group saying the visit made them view the Catholic Church more negatively.

In addition to asking about views of Francis and his impact on people’s impressions of the Catholic Church, the Pew Religion and Public Life survey asked people to use one word to describe Francis.

The most popular word was “good,” with 60 mentions, followed by “humble” (38 mentions) and “kind” (36 mentions).

Sixteen people said he was “liberal” and eight said he was a “socialist.”

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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