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Pope Francis most popular among global rich, says study

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Rizal Park in Manila, the Philippines in 2015 (PA)

Pope Francis famously said that he wanted “a poor Church for the poor”. But a new study has found that his approval ratings are highest among the world’s rich.

The study, by WIN/Gallup International, interviewed over 63,000 people in 64 countries around the globe. It found that the Pope’s global approval rating was +42: while 54 per cent of the world’s population has a favourable image of the Pope, only 12 per cent have an unfavourable image.

But while the Pope’s highest ratings came from those in the top fifth of income around the world – with an approval rating of +49 – among those in the bottom fifth his rating was only +37.

Medium and medium low earners rated him at 42 per cent; medium high earners at 45 per cent.

It was a similar story with education levels. Those with postgraduate degrees gave the Pope a +53 approval rating; those with undergraduate degrees +43; and those with basic or no education +30.

These figures are hard to interpret and may reflect other trends: for one thing, those with low incomes or little education were most likely to have no opinion of the Pope.

The WIN/Gallup survey also found that the Pope is more popular than any other world leader: he scored well ahead of Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and David Cameron.

The Pope is most admired by older people: those 55 and over give the Pope an approval rating of +52, compared to +41 in those 35-54 and +35 with under-35s.

Of the countries surveyed, those most attached to Pope Francis are Portugal, the Philippines and Argentina; the least favourable are Tunisia, Turkey and Algeria.

Latin America has the highest approval rating of any continent, followed by North America and Europe. Within Europe, the countries who give the Pope the lowest approval rating are Greece followed by Britain.