- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Should Pope Francis voice his opinion on policy? The answer depends on who you’re talking to. Half of Americans would like to hear Pope Francis speak about social and economic policy rather than focus entirely on matters of faith and religion during his visit to the U.S. There is a sizable partisan divide, however: 30 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats agree - along with 31 percent of conservatives and 69 percent of liberals.

So says a new MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist Poll released Monday.

Another 36 percent of Americans overall would like the Pope to speak “just about religion and faith”; 55 percent of Republicans and 26 percent of Democrats agree, as do 52 percent of conservatives and 19 percent of liberals. About a quarter of respondents across the board are neutral about the issue.

The arrival of Pope Francis and his U.S. tour is a media event regardless of poll numbers. When President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and their wives greet the Pontiff on his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base just outside the nation’s capital, coverage goes live at 4 p.m. on C-SPAN, Fox News, CBS, ABC and other networks. Time Warner Cable has added a temporary 24-hour “Papal Visit Channel” for live broadcasts of all masses and speeches, available through Sunday.

Meanwhile, another new Marist poll conducted on behalf of the Knights of Columbus surveyed 222 practicing Catholics about their faith, and here is what they found:

96 percent of the respondents cite the value and importance of daily prayer, 96 percent laud charity, 93 percent cite the importance of both the teachings of the Catholic Church and receiving the sacraments, while 89 percent applaud attending Mass regularly. Another 81 percent say abortion is morally wrong, 73 percent support the protection of religious liberty even if it conflicts with government laws, while 65 percent say the Eucharist is “the true presence of Jesus Christ.”

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