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Poll: Americans lose faith in Pope Francis

The Pope’s favorability rating among Americans has fallen from 76% in early 2014 to 59% today, roughly where it stood at the start of his papacy.

Americans are losing faith in Pope Francis, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday.

The Pope’s favorability rating in the U.S. has fallen from 76% in early 2014 to 59% today, roughly where it stood at the start of his papacy.

Francis has suffered his biggest losses among American Catholics and political conservatives. Catholics are still pretty into the pope, just not as unanimously as they were a year and a half ago – 71% say they have a favorable image of Francis, down from 89% in February of 2014.

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The drop among political conservatives is predictably starker. In the past 18 months, Francis has decried global capitalism’s “idolatry of money,” and blamed climate change on the “enormous consumption of some wealthy nations” – positions heretical to the tenets of modern conservatism. After enjoying 72% support from the American right in 2014, the Pope has a mere 45% today.

But the Pope has also suffered a 14-point drop in approval among the nation’s progressives, falling from 82% in 2014 to 68% now. Gallup hypothesizes that this is partially due to frustrations over the pope’s refusal to embrace the ordination of female priests.

Though it may also be that more than a year after TIME magazine named Francis its “Person of the Year,” many Americans from all political persuasions have simply forgotten who he is -- Gallup found that a quarter of Americans have either never heard of the pope, or have no opinion of him whatsoever, up from 16% in 2014.

Francis is still more popular in the U.S. than his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI was at the end of his papacy, when the church was plagued by revelations of its complicity in the sexual abuse of children in Brazil, Germany and Ireland.