By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – As Pope Francis prepares to celebrate his first Christmas at the Vatican, Americans' opinions of the pontiff appear to be as high as the dome on St. Peter's Basilica, according to a new survey.
A CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday found that 88% of American Catholics approve of how Francis is handling his role as head of the 1.2 billion-member church.
The popular pontiff has also made a positive impression among Americans in general: Nearly three in four view Francis favorably. The new survey suggests that the Pope is arguably the most well-regarded religious figure among the American public today, said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Nine months into his papacy, the Argentine-born Francis has captured attention with crowd-pleasing acts of compassion, from embracing a severely disfigured man, to washing the feet of juvenile delinquents, to hosting homeless men at his birthday Mass this month.
The Pope has also shown a common touch rare for such a lofty religious leader. He has eschewed the trappings of the papacy in favor of humbler digs, simpler vestments and a cheaper car. He worked as a bar bouncer and a janitor before he was a priest, and is not shy about telling people.
Pope: I was once a bar bouncer
According to one study, Pope Francis was the most talked about person on the Internet this year, and even atheists have professed appreciation for the 77-year-old pontiff.
The breadth of Francis' popularity was on display at American newsstands this month: he was named person of the year by both Time magazine and The Advocate, a gay and lesbian publication.
"While 2013 will be remembered for the work of hundreds in advancing marriage equality, it will also be remembered for the example of one man," The Advocate said. In remarks that rippled across the globe, Pope Francis said in July, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Pope Francis on gays: 'Who am I to judge?'
While the Pope has not changed church doctrine, he has urged Catholics to shift their focus from culture war issues to caring for people on society's margins, especially the poor.
"I see the church as a field hospital after battle," Francis said in September.
American Catholics appear to like the new course the Pope has set for their church. Nearly two-thirds agree with him about the amount of attention that should be paid to issues such as abortion and homosexuality, according to the CNN/ORC poll.
More than 85% of American Catholics say Francis is neither too liberal nor too conservative, and 86% say he's in touch with the modern world. By comparison, more than half of American Catholics said Pope John Paul II was out of step with the times in 2003, near the end of his 26-year-long papacy.
But Francis has been a fierce critic of the status quo, especially what calls the "idolatry of money" present in modern-day capitalism. In a papal statement last month, for example, the Pope blasted the theory of trickle-down economics, calling it "crude and naïve."
Conservative critics such as Rush Limbaugh pounced on the Pope's remarks, calling him a closet Marxist. But nearly two in three American Catholics agree with the Pope about capitalism and the free market's effects on the poor, according to the CNN/ORC poll.
Pope: Marxist ideology is 'wrong'
On other key issues for Catholics – the role of women in the church and the sexual abuse crises – Francis gets similarly high ratings from his American flock.
More than six in 10 American Catholics agree with Francis' comments about women in the church, according to the CNN/ORC poll. The Pope has said that women should have a larger role in church governance but cannot be ordained as priests.
Similarly, more than six in 10 American Catholics say Francis is doing a good job handling fallout from the church's sexual abuse scandal, even as most (64%) also say the church overall has done a poor job on the issue.
This month, the Vatican announced the creation of a new commission to care for victims of clergy sexual abuse and to prevent future crimes.
American Catholics had given especially low marks on the sexual abuse scandal to Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, with just 36% saying in 2010 that he had handled the issue well.
CNN's Holland said it's difficult to ascertain exactly how Francis' popularity stacks up against his predecessors, however. "It's a tough question since polling on Popes is pretty sparse," he said.
What's more, like political polling, approval ratings shift depending on the public mood and perception of a Pope's performance.
For example, three-quarters of American Catholics approved of how John Paul was leading the church in 1994; that number rose to 84% in 1999 and dipped to 64% in 2003, at the height of the church's sexual abuse crisis.
It remains to be seen how long the honeymoon will last for Francis, and how long he can continue to build goodwill among American Catholics.
The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International on December 16 through Thursday, with 1,035 adults nationwide, including 191 Catholics, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
Pope Francis' greatest hits of 2013
The pope is right about his comments about africa. and syria. but what can the secular world to bring about peace? peace, at the sake of souls ending up in hell, is a null-goal. The only chance that this world has, to avoid the white horse judgment, is a supernatural work through evangelism and salvation. Nations can only be changed , person by person, through the work of the Holy Spirit. we need bibles everywhere, and people who will read. we need a Christ filled revolution.
We need to shepherd the world without bias. The secular world has no chance of making any change what so every. Secular culture does not know what drives evil. They have it all wrong. Secular, God rejecting culture, will call for the strict wrath of God, and nothing less.
Everyone in the world needs a bible downloaded into their soul, and just as bit of non-demonic(secular) wisdom.
That stupid pope, is kissing a God forsaken graven image of a white baby. what a devil.
“You shall not make for yourself an idol” is an abbreviated form of one of the Ten Commandments which, according to the book of Deuteronomy, were spoken by God to Israel and then written on stone tablets by God himself.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
@ the pope, you will only live if through Satanic power after making a mistake like that in front of the world.
Another self-righteous Christian bashing another Christian.
You and hearties need to search your souls and figure out if that is what Our Lord would truly want.
You both seem to wrap yourselves up with righteous rage over people who serve Our Lord differently than you.
Shame on both of you. You are both bearing false witness.
there should not even be a priest today, according to the book of Hebrews. We had our final priest. instead of stupid, or devil, may i attempt to be Christ like and use the term "brood of vipers?"
i don't want to argue with you , you are a gentle voice, but how can you justify this graven image? what purpose does an effigy serve and why would the pope kiss a fake baby? That is a spectacle. The catholic church breaks way to many rules. and what i just say with him kissing the baby puts me over the edge of patience.
The point was simply that if a book such as a koran contradicts everything in the New Testament, I don't know how anyone can expect me to copy the pope and kiss said book. Likewise for statues, because God dwells within us, not statues. Because of this, I would rather read the New Testament directly, I'm statisfied by what the gospels say about Jesus and what he said is sufficient. I don't need a koran, or statues.
If my undestanding is wrong, post scriptures showing where it's wrong.
There are people with courage who don't turn to an imaginary God for supernatural solutions to problems it is really our responsibility to solve. Improved nutrition and healthcare, improved education and better systems of government are possible for everyone. Drop the God stuff and find your part in making it happen.
i am telling you brother, that I know about satanic evil. do think that creating a democracy for an islamic Iraq, still worshiping the doctrine of Jihad, can improve the peace of the world? There is only one way to eternal peace, and I would rather die than allow the world to die in peace, and then go to hell for rejecting Christ.
What the USA did, was go to war for convenience, and said to them, go right on to hell. and fast forwarded 1,000,000 souls to their death, and they acheived absolutely nothing for the kingdom of God.
this is just my opinion, the God cares more about the Gospel, and salvation, than zionism. Because the Good Shepherd seeks all of His sheep.
No war involved. and if Peter didn't write a book describing the appearance , then how can they kiss a graven image of the baby Jesus? this is blatant violation of the commandment on graven images, in the WORST IMAGINABLE FORM of idolatry. regardless of what He looked like.
And yet you just called the Pope a devil. Bigot.
by the way i am white.
Usually I only admit to being a small nocturnal mammal similar to a bushbaby.
So every crucifix with Jesus on it is an idol?
It's certainly and interesting interpretation, I'll give you that.
Pope Media Propaganda shy-high! Gimme a P! Gimme an O! Gimme a P! Gimme an E! What's that spell? I don't know because reading is forbidden in schools now, but sensationalized media with more stories than facts and less backbone than an amoeba is all the rage these days.
Next up is the pope kissing atheist literature.
Post the picture, please. Because if it's what I think you are talking about, that picture shows someone who appears to JP II, and it isn't clear what book he is kissing, but it thought to be the Bible.
This was sent out as lying emails a while back. I have to wonder at you motives fir trying to smear THIS Pope.
By saying what a past pope, or this pope has done, they'd be the one's smearing, if anyone is. The "kissing atheist literature" refers to this pope saying atheists were going to go to heaven, like atheists will be there denying God, in heaven, when that's not what the verses say. As for the "email" you refer to, I don't know anything about the email you mention. There is a video of a past pope kissing a koran, and you can go watch that all you like.
A koran in the trash would not bother me. Kissing a koran does, because it lies about someone I love: God. Someone could say that I should realize the one writing the koran was delusional or ignorant, but I shouldn't have to say that, the Islamic clerics should, it's their book.
Apparently you do not know that the God of the Koran is the same God of the Bible: the God of Abraham. What concerns me is your religious bigotry.
If you are claiming it's the same God in the koran, as is in the bible, then there is a big question to answer: did Jesus die for others sins and raise again the 3rd day, or as the koran says, he did not do either of those? The koran basically makes the claim that the entire bible is filled with falsehoods and made up miracles. The koran says that Jesus showed up for nothing other than to say some "good things" and leave, that he didn't die on the cross and there was no sacrifice for sins. How can the same God be the author of truth (the bible) and falsehood (the koran), at the same time?
Likewise, why would someone believe one man (mohammed) 600 years after Jesus, when the koran author claims all the witnesses and gospel authors are liars, as well as the Old Testament scribes, prophets, and kings? Is one man more convincing than the actual witnesses there at the time Jesus was here? The same God would not author both truth and falsehood. That is not the same God at work in both books. It's simply a liar writing the koran.
It is a preference, I prefer the truth in the bible. I prefer to leave a koran in the trash. I do not respect any text that says Jesus is a liar, or that says all the witnesses of Jesus, were liars. They bible authors told the truth and I believe them. That is my choice, my preference, and I believe Jesus. I do not believe mohammed. Jesus's love was one of the things that convinced me that he is right. There are many more reasons to believe him in the bible, but Jesus's love is one of the biggest convincing factors.
Anyone that wants to know God, get a bible and read the New Testament, directly read it. Get one that's word for word translated like the NKJB. You don't have to kiss statues or muslim temple floors, to find God. Muslims don't believe Jesus died on the cross, so kissing their floors to validate what they believe, makes no sense at all when considering what Jesus went through to die for our sins and raise again the third day (muslims don't believe that either).
It's OK to think, about God.
Statues are not worshiped but looked to as a point of focus in prayer and meditation.
So kissing focuses prayer and meditation, to a piece of rock or ceramic rather than God. And by the pope kissing a koran, Catholics are being told to focus on the koran, which denies Jesus died on the cross, and rose again the third day... a direct contradiction to what the apostles said happened. If someone goes to Jesus, then goes to a koran, it seems they're worse off then when they started.
I would encourage anyone to pray to God and meditate on God, to think about what God wants, instead. Think about Jesus Christ of Nazareth, go to him first, direct.
Oh, and you don't know that the book the Pope was kissing is a Koran, though that lie was spread in several emails put out by people with an agenda.
Instead of reading emails about it, why not watch the video of it?
The koran says the bible is corrupted by liars, that Jesus didn't die for others sins on the cross, didn't raise again the 3rd day of being in the hands of sinful men, no miracles, and no Genesis, and other missing stuff. A past pope kissed the koran, they kiss the ground, statues, call everyone there father, and write 85 pages about how they're going to change the church, rather than just read one of the gospels... about 3 times smaller in content.
I love that the pope would read the gospels to others, but the rest, I don't want it. What would Peter do? That's my new motto when it comes to the pope.
no doctrine of Jihad in the bible.. if there is a God, all our senses would point to Jesus Christ if He is God. Which they should. Because He is compassionate, full of grace, mercy , and wiling to die on our behalf. He paid the price in full, and He promises us His Holy Spirit.
What a redeemer!
Your motive seems specious.
I do not like to think of your motivation behind this , but it appears that gossip and slander are decidedly not Christ- like.
And what would Peter do? Do you honestly think he would act in the manner you are?
Why do you suppose Peter would want to kiss statues? You seem to think he'd want to. What does the pope get out of it? What does the statue do for him?
Quote from here: http://www.archelaos.com/popes/details.aspx?id=303
"On 14 May 1999, the pope received at the Vatican, a delegation of top Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims. In an interview with FIDES news service, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Raphael Bidawid of Iraq said, "At the end of the audience the Pope bowed to the Muslim holy book, the Qu'ran, presented to him by the delegation, and he kissed it as a sign of respect." At a homily in Astana, Kazakhstan, 23 Sept 2001, the pope said that the Muslims worship the same God and are accepted."
So one of the pope's own, said the pope did it. Did the pope know what he was kissing? Was it out of habit? Did he even think first?
I wasn't there, I don't care. I don't kiss statues, nor korans. There is no one good but God, and he'll decide it all, but I just love Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God the Father. Of which, mohammed said they don't exist, only his god exists, and I don't buy that.
Statues are not worshiped but looked to as a point of focus in prayer and meditation.
Is there some part of that you don't understand?
I have seen Protestant ministers kiis the cross...this is wrong, why?
A cross is a peice of metal, wood, or plastic. That's all it is. The cross brings to mind what happened to Jesus, but beyond that, it's no different than a sticker on a pair of shoes, simply reminding people who made them... not that the sticker made them.
What would Peter do?
Peter was crucified on a cross... would Peter kiss a cross?
Would Peter be talking smack about other Christians?
People show their faith on different ways. Some where crosses and crucifixes. You show yours by posting things about other faiths and critisizing fellow Christians.
Did God give a command to kiss statues and crosses?
So Peter comes back 2000 years later and they hand him a koran, and they tell him it says he's a liar, and that Jesus never died on the cross, that someone else did, so there was no reason for Peter to deny Jesus 3 times when they asked him who Peter is as he stood there. And they tell Peter that Jesus never rose from the dead, so there was no reason for Peter to preach to anyone or himself die on a cross.
Would Peter pick up a koran and kiss it?
I'll think up a good story about Peter kissing statues, NOT.
Peter would naturally gossip about other Christians. NOT.
On the grounds of my old University is a larger-than-life statue of Ignatius of Loyola with hands extended so that you can clasp one as if holding hands. It feels incredibly lifelike. One night while tripping I was weeping and holding onto Loyola's hand when a Dominican priest I knew vaguely came by. He was astounded at my vocation. This led to an interview during which several administrators, priests all, tried to convince me to pursue religious life. Life would have been different if, say, I'd joined the Society of Jesus.
Sometimes things are so simple, utterly simple, that people are blinded to them, thinking it can't be so simple. When God dwells within someone, that is direct. You don't need a statue to kiss, or a stone, or a book such as the Koran that denies Jesus died on the cross and raised again the third day of being in the hands of sinful men, or a pope, or all that other stuff. You don't need it.
I do think it's great if the pope can tell people about Jesus, to read the scriptures to them, but to then dash them into a statue, or a koran and tell them it's good for them, no thank you. I don't want that, I want Jesus.
Now moving to the 21st century:
(from Professor Crossan's book, "Who is Jesus" co-authored with Richard Watts)
"Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us."
"Traditionally, Christians have said, 'See how Christ's passion was foretold by the prophets." Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus' last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God."
"In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life."
that is NOT , what it says anywere. back that up with scripture. you are twisting it for your own enjoyment.
Your request makes no sense Austin. What passage from the bible would you use in this case? It's contrary to the point being made in the first place?
If there is no God, prove it? You can't bring up ANY fairy tale characters or any atheist garbage. It must be in scientific form that proves a creator did not create us. Atheists can't lie themselves out of this one.
Shove it, L. You're still an asshole.
Sure. No prob. What sort of evidence could I provide you that you would evaluate to mean that god does not exist?
If you know that there is a God, you must have a means of establishing that there is a God that depends on God's existence as a fact. The means must be such that if God does not exist, it would show that God does not exist. So, if you know there is a God, you are equipped to answer your question: Can there be proof that there is not a God?
Your logic would apply to any other gods or goddesses just as well, and I doubt you'd admit that. It also works with Unicorns, Bigfoot, Angels, Demons, the Chupacabras, the Loch Ness Monster, Cthulhu, Zu'ul etc. How 'bout them apples?
Even though Peter did deny knowing Jesus when faced with excruciating pain if he admitted knowing him before Jesus was crucified and raised again, I sincerely doubt that Peter would have kissed statues, kissed muslim floors or temples, or denied angels and miracles at Jesus's birth. Those are just too much.
Catholics, if you are to be true to your faith, you must go around kissing statues, you must go to muslim temples and kiss their floors, you must deny angles and miracles at Jesus's birth... right? Have you kissed your quota of statues this month? How many people do you call father?
LOL... Peter would tell Paul (aka simon magus) and his gentile followers to go to hell... because that's where they are already going for violating god's law.
You have zero right to judge how other Christians worship Him.
Focus on spreading His message, and less on other Christians whose practices you not only do not understand, but decry.
And as for your criticism on Islam, being a religious bigot isn't pretty...
When the koran denies Jesus died on the cross and raised again, I do not have to agree with that, or kiss it.
Imagine Jesus dying on the cross, and the high priests are laughing at him saying if you're the son of God, save yourself. Later someone else shows up and says it never happened in the first place, and writes a book saying such. Now you can kiss that book, and I'll toss it in the trash.
"Pope Francis said in July, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”"
+++ IF they search for the lord? so g.ay atheists still go to hell...?
He was quite frank with what he said. Take from it what you will.
And who are you to judge.
Waiting to see CNN publish this story:
"Atheists, Work With Us for Peace, Pope Says on Christmas."
Don't you have a resume to work on? This time tell the truth.
aside from a few nice words, what has the pope actually done?
he hasn't changed church dogma or doctrine.
he really hasn't done... anything.
correct me if i'm wrong,
but so far this pope is all talk,
yeah i'm an anti-christian and i like the guy, now if only he would denounce charlemagne, he really doing sage Frances justice.
How gullible stupid people can be.
How gullible stupid people can be!
Max out the Pope exposure y'all. Just don't mention that boy abuse thing re those priests. Keep it hidden.
Gotta keep that dying RC cult alive. Watcha gonna do if the next Pope ain't such a TV personality?
Obama's sitting in Hawaii with his head in his hand moaning "Noooooooo"!
Or more likely he's still asleep, and when he wakes up he will celebrate Christmas with his family. But here you are on Christmas morning trolling your political leanings. I think his holiday will be happier than yours.
Merry Christmas, unhappy partisan fool.
Merry Christmas, name-changing troll.
Wasn't talking to you, talllulah, but Merry Christmas to you, too.
I just believe in God, regardless to human error, I am just proud to be Christian, I respect the entire Catholic community of this planet, I love my enemies including Atheist people, all because life is too short as well for conflit & hatred. obviously, it is much better to live in peace
I am an atheist. How am I your enemy? What have I done to you that is so terrible that you think of me in that light? I simply don't believe that your god exists. In the United States we are allowed to believe or not believe as we chose. I don't think of you as my enemy. Why do you think this of me?
As just one single representative of the Christian faith I will unequivocally state that you, et al, are not my enemies. As much as I vehemently oppose what I perceive to be your misguided ideology, and while I do not particularly appreciate the ad hominem attacks that have come my way, enemies you are not. Ultimately, we are all h o mo sapiens trudging through life on this planet, trying to make sense of it all.
why do you feel atheists are your enemies?
I think of you as a poor delusional xian. Abused into belief of the myth as a child.
Gus, you are demonstrating yourself to be a hypocrite by labeling a group an "enemy" while claiming to love them.
Dishonesty seems a trademark of Christians, I have to say.
You talk to this guy in a hostile way. Therefore you count as an enemy. However, he said that he loved you anyway. I do not see the contradiction.
And I don't see any hostility in Sue's post. But calling someone your enemy, especially when they have done nothing wrong, is hostile.
Mr. smiley face was put in place specifically to save the reputation of the catholic church. People forget to quickly that he was an apparatchick of the church for many years. The new 'Don' now comes to us in this smiley-face ingratiating way--because it's had to give up so much ground because we know much much more about the way things are than a goat herder in 10 C.E. that believed the absurdities in the bible. Never forget the way the church behaved when it was strong, stealing and murdering its way to power for centuries. Finally the catholic church is coming to the coveted 'last days'. The last hope for power is now South America and other backward countries. Good bye and good riddance.
I agree. This new Pope may be the nicest guy on the planet, but he's just a cosmetic figurehead for a very corrupt organization that has no intention of changing it's ways.
The pope is a nice guy in the same way Tony Soprano or Al Capone were nice guys.
Exactly, KAM. It's easy for the guy at the head of the gang to appear to be pleasant.
the most important approval is not of men but of GOD only.
yet there is no way you know you have god's approval, until (perhaps) the end
you may have approval of those who purport to speak for god, but they are generally delusional or corrupt
If liberals approve of this guy there must be a catch. Liberals are godless so go figure.
Are you really Ann Coulter?
suck a 12 gauge, troll
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.