Pope Francis 'is popular' among Americans before US visit

(Photo: REUTERS / Andreas Solaro / Pool)Pope Francis greets cardinals during an audience for Christmas greetings to the Curia in the Clementina hall at the Vatican December 22, 2014.

Most Americans have a favorable view of Pope Francis and think he has a message for all the country's citizens, a survey ahead of his scheduled September visit to the United States has found.

The Knights of Columbus-Marist Poll surveyed Americans about the Pope ahead of his visit in late September.

The poll carried out by the Catholic charity organization also found that most American know little about Francis him and are not sure news reports about him are accurate, Catholic News Agency reported.

The Pope will visit the U.S. Sept. 22-27, with stops in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia.

He will address the U.S. Congress and the United Nations, and say the closing Mass for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

"On his trip to the United States, not only will Pope Francis get to know the American people, but the American people will also get to know him," Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus said Aug. 26.

"The Pope is popular among Americans, and especially among Catholics, and there is a hunger for his message, with the vast majority of Americans understanding that he brings a message for all of us."

Almost 60 percent of respondents said they had a favorable or very favorable view of Pope Francis.

This is about the same rating Benedict XVI had before his 2008 visit to the United States.

Ten percent of respondents voiced an unfavorable view of the Pope, while about 32 percent said they were unsure, or had not heard of the pontiff.


Pope Francis held a "virtual audience" in several cities across the United States as part of the lead-up to his visit later this month on Aug. 31 the Vatican reported.

During the interactive event, those taking part were able to share their stories and ask Pope Francis questions.

In one instance, the Pope asked a teenage girl, who had been a victim of bullying, to sing for him.

Speaking from the Vatican, and alternating between English and Spanish, Pope Francis addressed those taking part at various locations across the US.

These included students at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, faithful at a Texas Church near the Mexican border, as well as homeless people and those who work to assist them in Los Angeles.

The event was hosted by ABC News and moderated by network's "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir.

The entire virtual audience is scheduled to air in a one-hour special edition of ABC News' "20/20" on Friday, Sept. 4, and will be posted in its entirety in both English and Spanish on the ABCNews.com website.

Among all Catholic respondents in the Knights of Columbus-Marist Poll, 77 percent viewed Pope Francis favorably.

Practicing Catholics were most favorable, with 83 percent rating him favorably or very favorably.

Respondents approved of the Pope's role as a spiritual and a world leader. They rated him highly for his work on inter-religious relations, and thought he was someone who cares about people like them.

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