Before reading down to the next paragraph, take a guess at the results that would come from asking this question of US Catholics: Do you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion of Pope Benedict XVI?
The proportion of respondents who gave one of the first two answers — that they view Pope Benedict very or somewhat favourably — was 63 per cent, which is a lot higher than the number I would have guessed. Only 21 per cent of the people responding to the Rasmussen Reports survey have an unfavourable view of the retiring Holy Father — 17 per cent were somewhat unfavourable and just 4 per cent very unfavourable.
The survey doesn’t mention how the attitudes of American Catholic have changed — or not — over the past eight years, or in the three years since the Pope made his visit to the United States. That would make for interesting reading, and I have a hunch that he wouldn’t have been as popular at either of those times. It’s interesting how some world leaders are more popular before and/or after they are in positions of power, which may be the case with Pope Benedict, whose popularity I suspect soared when he decided to step down.
The survey also found — though one needs to be a subscriber to see the full report — that less than half of American Catholics think Pope Benedict shares their values and views.