Pope Francis’s approval rating among Americans has sunk two months ahead of his first trip to the United States.
The survey by Gallup claims that his popularity is at 59 per cent, down by 17 per cent from 76 per cent in February 2014.
The study was conducted from July 8 to 12, which was three weeks after the Pontiff released his encyclical about the environment; Laudato Si’.
Mark Gray, polling director for the Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, said the poll reflects that “many American Catholics are more closely affiliated with their political party than their faith.”
The poll showed that among Catholics the Pope’s approval dropped by 18 per cent to 71 per cent and it is thought that the decline is partially driven by the Pope’s denouncing of “the idolatry of money”.
Benedict XVI received his highest approval rating of 63 per cent when he visited the US in 2008 so it is thought that Pope Francis’s rating will rise in September once he has embarked on his own papal visit to the country.
US President Barack Obama will welcome the Pope to the White House on September 23. That afternoon he will celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and canonise Blessed Junipero Serra.
The Pope will also become the first pontiff to address a joint meeting of Congress on September 24, before addressing the UN General Assembly on the following day.
The Gallup survey revealed an increase in the number of people who said they had no opinion about Pope Francis or hadn’t heard of him, rising from 16 per cent to a quarter of those asked.