The number of Americans who say Pope Francis has poorly handled the church’s sex abuse nearly doubled since January, according to the Pew Research Center.
A poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center revealed that while seven-in-10 American Catholics still view Francis positively, six-in-10 say the pontiff is doing an “only fair” or “poor” job of handling the sexual abuse crisis. The percentage of those who believe Francis is doing an “excellent” or “good” job has dropped 15 points since January. (RELATED: Catholic Lay Group Devotes Over $1 Million To Expose Cardinals Guilty Of Abuse Or Cover-Ups)
Pew interviewed 1,754 American adults over the phone, 336 of whom identified as Catholic, for the survey. While 72 percent of participating Catholics said they view Francis favorably, only about half of the overall participants said the same, marking the pontiff’s lowest rating of approval since 2013.
Major sexual abuse scandals in Chile, Ireland, Germany, and the U.S. have rocked the Catholic Church in recent years. The scandals surrounding former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the systematic cover-ups and more than 300 predator priests revealed in Pennsylvania’s grand jury report on sexual abuse, and allegations from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano that Francis and other church officials knowingly enabled McCarrick’s abuses particularly angered Americans.
Francis stoked that ire by refusing to comment on Vigano’s allegations against him and by accusing those who bring allegations against church officials of doing the work of Satan. American church officials and lay leaders have called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding McCarrick’s rise to the rank of cardinal despite the allegations of sexual abuse against him as well as an investigation into Vigano’s allegations.
The Vatican thus far has not issued any of its promised “clarifications” on the Vigano accusations, and an American lay group has launched an effort to audit every cardinal with a “Red Hat Report” intended to expose those who have been credibly accused of cover-up or scandal.
The Pew poll had a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points for the overall sample and 6.7 points for the Catholic sample.
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