By Umar Farooq
Americans’ confidence in Pope Francis’ handling of Catholic sex abuse scandals has declined, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.
An iconic figure who amassed huge numbers of supporters, Pope Francis drew large crowds when he visited the U.S. in 2015.
Three years later, however, he finds himself with less favorable ratings in the U.S.
Nearly half of all Americans, or 51 percent, view Francis favorably, the lowest rating he has received since being elected to the papacy in 2013.
Even his ratings among Catholics in the U.S. have gone down this year.
According to the survey, six out of 10 Catholic adults believe that Francis is doing an “only fair” or “poor” job of addressing the sex abuse scandals.
The amount of Catholics who said he was doing a poor job, 36 percent, was double the number who said so at the beginning of this year and triple the amount since 2015.
But overall, most Catholics, or seven out of 10, still view the pope favorably.
The pope has struggled to get on top of a wave of sex abuse scandals in many countries, including the U.S., Chile and Germany.
In August, a grand jury report was released in Pennsylvania which revealed that 300 Catholic priests across the state had sexually abused over 1,000 children.
Francis has also been receiving increasingly declining ratings in other aspects of the papacy, including appointing new bishops, standing up for traditional morals and spreading the Catholic faith.
The study also found that within the U.S., the view of the pope has become politically polarized.
Many Democrats, or 83 percent, view the pope quite favorably, while the number of Republicans that find him favorable is significantly less, at 61 percent.
In 2014, the divide between the two parties over their view of the pope was just three points.
The survey was conducted from Sept. 18-24 and covered 1,754 adults, 336 of which were identified as Catholic.