It’s official: Pope is popular – more than world leaders

Pope Francis holds a child as he leads the weekly audience in Paul VI's hall at the Vatican January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi

[Austen Ivereigh] Most people in the world have a very favourable view of Pope Francis, who is considerably more popular than the world’s leading politicians, according to a new poll.

Citizens in 64 countries were asked: “Irrespective of your own religion, do you have a very favourable, somewhat favourable, somewhat unfavourable or very unfavourable opinion of Pope Francis?”

Overall, 54% of the world’s population has a favourable opinion of Pope Francis, against 12% who hold an unfavourable opinion and 34% that do not know how to evaluate the Pope.

The WIN/Gallup survey  found the Pope was most popular of all in Europe and the Americas, where approval ratings are in the 80-90 per cent range. The countries where he is most popular are Portugal (94% positive image), the Philippines (93%), Argentina (89%), Italy (86%), Colombia (84%), Lebanon (80%), Spain (80%), Peru (79%), Poland (78%) and Ecuador (78%).

Comparing this result with surveys of the popularity of political leaders, the survey found that Francis Pope heads the pack with a net score of +41, ahead of US President Barack Obama (+30), and far ahead of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel (+13), the British Prime Minister David Cameron (+10) and French President Francois Hollande (+6). The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, scored a negative rating of -10%.

Unsurprisingly, Catholics have the highest positive opinion of Pope Francis (85%), and the Pope is more popular among Jews (65%) than Protestants (53%). Among other religions, the favourability is lower — 28% of Muslims and 33% of Buddhists — but more than half of these do not know who he is.

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