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And 56% of Catholics think the church will soon allow Catholics to use birth control, very similar to the 53% who said this last year.
However, support for these changes remains high among American Catholics.
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But despite the pope’s popularity and the widespread perception that he is a change for the better, it is less clear whether there has been a so-called “Francis effect,” a discernible change in the way American Catholics approach their faith.
And the survey finds no evidence that large numbers of Catholics are going to confession or volunteering in their churches or communities more often.
One year into his pontificate, Pope Francis remains immensely popular among American Catholics and is widely seen as a force for positive change within the Roman Catholic Church. The percentage of Catholics who view Francis “very favorably” now rivals the number who felt equally positive about Pope John Paul II in the 1980s and 1990s, though Francis’ overall favorability rating remains a few points shy of that of the long-serving Polish pope. And nearly everyone who says Francis represents a major change sees this as a change for the better.
Catholics say they have a favorable view of the pontiff, including half who view him very favorably. Catholics also now say Francis represents a major change in direction for the church, a sentiment shared by 56% of non-Catholics.
Nearly eight-in-ten say the church should allow Catholics to use birth control, while roughly seven-in-ten say the church should allow priests to get married and allow women to become priests. Catholics say the church should recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples, while 43% say it should not.
By comparison, support for the church sanctioning same-sex marriages is lower. Roughly one-in-three – including 21% of those who do not think the church should accept same-sex marriages – say they expect the church will recognize such marriages by 2050.