Sanity prevails, but not at the Vatican.
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.
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.
On all other actions polled, Francis got broad and enthusiastic support across all demographic groups. On the question of whether he was right to authorize priests to forgive women who have had abortions, approval extended even to born-again Christians, 71 percent of whom called it a “good direction.” Among that group, 62 percent also gave a thumbs-up to Francis’s refusal to judge gays.