Opinion of Pope Francis is resolutely favorable, while Americans - and especially Catholics - side with making the church more open to gays
Earlier this week, Pope Francis made headlines when he said in an interview, "Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?". Catholic officials have said the remark does not mark a shift for Catholic doctrine - being homosexual is not a sin but homosexual acts are. But Francis's words have a sparked discussion of a new era of inclusivity for the church.
New research from YouGov shows that perception of Pope Francis remains resolutely positive, while his remark on homosexuality has been well-received, especially by Catholics.
Overall, 56% of Americans have a favorable view of the Pope. This has risen from 40% when Francis first assumed the papacy in March and remains much higher than his predecessor Benedict XVI, whom 35% of Americans have a favorable opinion of. Approval of Francis is even higher among Catholics, with 76% having a favorable opinion.
As for whether the Catholic Church should be more inclusive of homosexuals, Americans tend to agree. 39% say the Catholic Church should be more inclusive while 29% say it should not be. Among Catholics support rises, with 46% saying they want to church to be more open to gays and 24% saying the opposite.
While Americans want the Catholic Church to be inclusive, they are still split on the morality of homosexual acts, which the Catholic Church condemns as sinful. 43% say that homosexual acts are sinful while 41% say they are not. Catholics are similarly divided on the matter, with 38% saying homosexual acts are sinful and 39% saying they are not.
The survey also signaled that American - and especially Catholics - want Francis to make changes in the church. Overall, 35% of American adults say they want Francis to make major changes and 22% say they want him to make minor changes. Only 8% say they want no changes at all. Among Catholics, the number rises even higher to 39% wanting major changes and 33% saying they want minor changes.
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