- The Washington Times
Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Many American Catholics approve of how Pope Francis, who is about to celebrate his first Christmas Mass, is leading the church, a new poll said Tuesday.

A CNN/ORC International poll said 88 percent approved of the way Pope Francis is handling the 1.2 billion-member church, and two-thirds agree on the amount of attention he’s spending on moral issues.

“By comparison, three-quarters of American Catholics approved of how Pope John Paul II was leading the church in 1994; that number rose to 84% in 1999 and dipped to 64% in 2003, at the height of the church’s sexual abuse crisis,” CNN reported.

The poll was conducted from Dec. 16 to 19, as 1,035 adults nationwide were questioned by telephone, CNN said. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

In recent months, this unconventional pope has been shown hugging a disabled man suffering from tumors on his skin, sneaking away to feed the homeless, hugging a child who interrupted him during one of his ceremonies, drawing millions to a Mass celebration at Brazilian beach and generally shunning most of the luxurious trappings of the Vatican.

Despite the good will from American Catholics, a poll released last month by the Pew Research Center found there was no discernible “Pope Francis effect” in U.S. churches, meaning the draw to weekly Mass attendance has remained stable, about the same as before.

SEE ALSO: Americans increasingly turn to God: poll

• Maria Stainer can be reached at mstainer@washingtontimes.com.

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