Pope Benedict's Legacy: Americans See Him As No Better Than Average

March 13, 2013, 3:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 3/9/2013) As the Cardinals begin their work of selecting a new Pope, Americans look on the most recent resident of the Vatican as, at best, an average holder of the keys of St. Peter. In the most recent Economist/YouGov Poll, one in three Americans believe Pope Benedict XVI will be regarded by history as an average Pope. And more think he will be looked on as below average or a poor Pope than think he will go down as above average or as one of the best.

Even Catholics don’t look on Benedict especially favorably. 19% of Catholics say he will be remembered as above average or as one of the best Popes, but just about as many say he will go down in history as below average or as one of the worst Popes.

But most Americans – even non-Catholics – say it matters who succeeds Benedict. 65% regard the choice of the next Pope as important, with more than a third thinking it is very important. Catholics, many of whom have serious disagreements with their Church, are even more likely to say the results of the Conclave matters.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here

Photo source: Press Association