Americans have favorable view of Pope Francis

Pope-FrancisMost Americans think highly of Pope Francis, who has won praise for speaking out on global warming and urging his church to show more compassion toward sinners, says a poll released Wednesday.

The Quinnipiac University survey was released as the reform-minded pontiff prepares to visit the United States from September 22-27, after a stop in Cuba.

Sixty-six percent of those polled have a favorable or very favorable opinion of the Argentine-born pope, the survey found.

Among Catholic Americans, the support was even greater at 88 percent.

Among Americans in general, 43 percent said they think the pope is leading the Roman Catholic church in the right direction, compared to 21 percent who say he is not. Among Catholics 70 percent say he is leading the church in the right direction.

Thirty-five percent said they did not know, or had no answer to the question.

The poll conducted last month surveyed 1,829 American adults and had a margin of error of 2.3 percentage points.

During his stay in America, Pope Francis is to visit New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, where he will be received by President Barack Obama and address a joint session of the US Congress.

Francis has won plaudits for defending the environment, denouncing income inequality and showing concern for the poor.

He also has said, famously, that he is not in a position to judge gays, although he has retained the official church position that homosexuality is wrong.

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