After six months, Pope Francis is rated favorably by eight out of 10 U.S. Catholics, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center.
Just 4 percent of Catholics say they have an unfavorable view of the first Latin American pope, while 17 percent express no opinion or say they have not heard enough about Francis to have an opinion.
Pew conducted the survey Sept. 4-8 and found that views of Pope Francis among U.S. Catholics are largely unchanged since the days after his ascension to the papacy in March.
Francis’ current favorability rating, according to a release from Pew, is roughly equivalent to the highest rating ever for Pope Benedict XVI, which was in 2008, after his visit to the United States.
In three Pew polls, Pope John Paul II was rated favorably by upwards of nine in 10 U.S. Catholics.
Francis, the survey found, has the strongest support among Catholics who say they attend Mass at least once a week. And he is most popular among younger Catholics.
Francis has taken a more tolerant approach on political issues than the unyielding Benedict, who enforced ultra-conservative positions. Repeated polls showed that Benedict's positions and those of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops were not shared by a majority of U.S. Catholics, including positions on LGBT equality and marriage.