Papal Visit Results in Big Jump in Positive View of Benedict and Church

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4/30/2008

One third now more likely to vote and be more active in community and Church.

A poll taken immediately following the conclusion of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States shows that it had a powerful impact on public attitudes toward the pope, the Church, and a willingness to live their faith more fully.

The nationwide poll of 1,013 adults was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion between April 22 and April 24, 2008.  Marist conducted a similar poll  prior to the pope’s visit, allowing before-and-after comparisons.

Among the highlights of the poll results:

  • 65 percent of Americans have a more positive view of Pope Benedict as a result of what they saw and heard during his visit

  • 52 percent have a more positive view of the Catholic Church

  • The proportion of Americans with a favorable view of Pope Benedict jumped from 58 percent prior to his visit to 71 percent afterward

  • The proportion describing the pope positively as a spiritual leader went from 53 percent to 62 percent

  • The proportion describing him as a good or excellent world leader went from 41 percent to 51 percent

  • 56 percent see his ability to promote good relations between the Catholic Church and other religions as good or excellent, up from 40 percent prior to his visit

  • More than a third (35 percent) say they are now more in touch with their own spiritual values as the result of the pope’s visit.

Even more importantly, nearly half (49 percent) now have a better understanding of the Catholic Church’s positions on important issues, and a significant proportion of Americans are prepared to change their personal involvement as a result:

  • About four in ten say they are more likely to lead a moral life and make family a bigger part of their lives

  • One in three are more likely to participate in elections, community activities and their churches as a result of the papal visit.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said that the poll results “show clearly that Pope Benedict has presented the Catholics of the United States with a tremendous opportunity.  Americans are a religious people, and they responded very positively to the message of faith, hope and love that the Holy Father delivered throughout his visit.  It is now up to all of us in the Catholic community to walk through the door he has opened for us, and work together to build a civilization of love.”