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The secret to the pope's popularity: credibility

2017-03-18

Since beginning his pontificate now four years ago, Pope Francis has kept wide-spread popularity throughout the world, and especially with people in the United States. 

DR. MICHAEL D. DRIESSEN
John Cabot University
"Poll data shows that he's [Pope Francis] won the hearts and minds and has a very high popularity all across the world. So he's been capable of bringing people in and making his faith look credible. This is what he's interested in; sort of offering, projecting, entering into, living out a very spiritually credible holy life and allowing all of his policies to flow from that.” 

Dr. Michael Driessen, the chair of the department of political science and international affairs at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy, is frequently called on as an expert opinion in Europe on politics and trends in the U.S. 

He references a Pew Research Center study from January 2017, where data shows that most Catholics, and most Americans in general, like Pope Francis. Thus, his favorable numbers have remained in the 80 percentile with American Catholics and in the 70 percentile with the general United States public. 

DR. MICHAEL D. DRIESSEN
John Cabot University
"We see these levels of support for the pope. I mean, these levels are unheard of. We see people latching on as well, across the political spectrum, to this sort of leader. That credibility is key here. Beyond whether or not people agree with him on specific issues, his spiritual credibility, his credibility as a holy person, his credibility as an authentic human being is just widespread loved.

The pope's way of gaining popularity does not seem to be one of tiptoeing around important issues. Instead, he is forcefully speaking out contrary to various world leaders, and calling out ideologies of hatred, destruction and fear which are creeping into society as a whole. 

DR. MICHAEL D. DRIESSEN
John Cabot University
"There's a whole series of issues, which I think the pope in this moment is uniquely placed to speak to, and from a unique place of credibility. So he's not speaking for the secular liberal left; he's speaking for a religiously expressed understanding of humanities and sort of a humanistic understanding, which I think undercuts some of that opposition.”

The latest polls show that in January 2017, the pope's popularity reached 87 percent. It will be interesting to see if the numbers inch up to the 90th percentile at all during this upcoming year. 

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