“I don’t think this is some massive, massive crisis.” — Cardinal Donald Wuerl, August 8.
After new sexual abuse allegations against Catholic priests and criticism of Pope Francis’ leadership on the issue, his favorability in the US has dropped substantially in a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.
Only half of Americans — 48% — say they have a favorable view of the Pope, down from two-thirds who said the same in January 2017 and 72% who said so in December 2013, a few months after he was first elevated to the position.
… Specifically among US Catholics, his ratings have fallen from 83% favorability a year and a half ago to 63% now — a 20-point drop.
The Roman pontiff is not a politician. He doesn’t live or die professionally by poll numbers (and in any case, Pope Benedict XVI’s numbers were even lower in 2010). But this is still a big deal. Team Francis — in the Vatican and elsewhere — keep insisting that this is just a political thing, and that the Viganò charges have been discredited (they haven’t), so all is well, let’s move on and talk about what really matters: the environment and immigration.
The pontiff’s credibility really is in free fall. With each passing day of stonewalling, he makes it that much harder to dig himself out of this hole.
And the state grand juries around the US have barely gotten started.