If you’re generally a fan of Pope Francis, but are frustrated by his involvement in secular issues like climate change and income inequality, you’re not alone. A new Bloomberg Politics poll shows that Americans across all demographics, ideologies and age groups give the pontiff high marks.
However, while Americans generally approve of the pontiff’s agenda, a majority of Americans oppose his views on climate change. And fewer than half support the Pope’s denouncement of the current economic system.
Americans love Pope Francis and his forgiveness agenda, but they’re less enthusiastic about the judgments he’s making about secular issues such as the the debate over climate change and income inequality, according to a new Bloomberg Politics poll completed on the eve of the pope’s arrival for his first visit to the United States.
The survey gave Francis a 64 percent favorability rating, considerably higher than those of all the U.S. political leaders the poll asked about, and twice that of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
The pope is admired by a majority of all ideological, generational, and religious groups: 86 percent of Catholics approve of him, but so do 55 percent of born-again Christians and 58 percent of Americans who adhere to no religion.
“I think he’s giving the Catholic Church a new perspective, that it doesn’t have to be so rigid,” said Lydia Becker, a 59-year-old Catholic who works as a dental assistant in Homestead, Florida. “He’s more open to change. I just find him totally amazing.”
When it comes to the pope’s messages of forgiveness or increased tolerance on traditionally hot-button social issues—abortion, gays, marriage, and immigration—Americans across party lines are overwhelmingly supportive of Francis.
But on the one global issue on which he’s staked so much of his reputation, with a June papal encyclical urging action to combat climate change, just one-third of those surveyed are supportive.
They’re also lukewarm about the pope’s activism against economic inequality, which has become a rallying cry for Democrats in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In Bolivia last month, Francis gave a speech in which he decried the “subtle dictatorship” of money. Where “an unfettered pursuit of money rules,” the pope said, “the service of the common good is left behind.” Asked how they feel about Francis’s denunciations of the “economy of exclusion and inequality,” 48 percent of those responding said it is a “good direction” for the Catholic Church.
Generally speaking, it appears most Americans would prefer the Pope stick to matters of religion. BTW, anyone else find it interesting that it’s Bloomberg Politics conducting this poll on the Pope? Sadly, to feature this pontiff in the context of the political realm is fitting, given his activism — though many would argue, inappropriate.
What is also striking — and worrisome — is how many Americans agree with Pope Francis’ urging of nations to be more welcoming of immigrants. As we’ve discussed here multiple times, this all sounds lovely and humanitarian in theory, but the devil (sorry) is in the details. Few like to discuss mitigating issues — you might say, cold hard reality — like the fact that we can’t even afford take care of our own veterans and yet we’re talking about putting hundreds of millions of dollars toward new immigrants to the country. And, meanwhile, these immigrants own neighbors — the six Gulf nations — refuse to take any in. Not to mention the high risk of welcoming more Islamic extremists, who wish to destroy us and our way of life, into this nation. It’s ironic, by the way, that Pope Francis is urging more leniency for immigrants, while his own Vatican City has the strictest immigration policy in the world!
One topic that was not mentioned — not surprisingly — in Bloomberg Politics’ poll was the current widespread persecution and execution of Christians. Funny, the Pope doesn’t talk about that either.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]