SAINT LEO, FL – Pope Francis continues to post a high favorability rating, according to a new Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( survey. Poll respondents were asked if their opinion of the pope is strongly favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or not at all favorable.

While his popularity dipped slightly to 62.6 percent overall, the poll shows among Catholics, 85.8 percent favorability, which is up slightly from 84.2 in September 2016, but down from 87.5 percent in the June 2016 poll.

In the time between polls, Pope Francis ended the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which began on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015. “The attention given to its closing at the end of November may have drawn more attention to Pope Francis and positively affected his favorability rating among Catholics,” said Dr. Marc Pugliese, Saint Leo University assistant professor of theology and religion.

According to Saint Leo’s most recent poll, among 1,001 respondents, 62.6 percent hold a very or somewhat favorable opinion of Pope Francis. The September poll showed his favorability at 65.4 percent. In June 2016, it was 68.9 percent. The highest percentage 75.8 percent, which Pope Francis received in Saint Leo’s poll conducted in September 2015 after his visit to the United States.

“The pope has not been as ‘publicly active’ since September 2016 as he had been the year before in September,” Pugliese said, and this could account for a slight decline in Pope Francis’ favorability rating among the general population.

On September 4, 2016, he canonized Mother Teresa of Calcutta. “Many people—not just Catholics and religious people in general, but even those who are not religious—had great respect and admiration for Mother Teresa.”

The second factor contributing to the slight dip could be the election of Donald J. Trump as the next U.S. president, Pugliese added. Pope Francis publicly criticized Trump when the pope was visiting Mexico, and the pope also is seen as more progressive on immigration issues and alleviation of poverty.

Media contacts: Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text).  Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text).

More About Our Research

METHODOLOGY: All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The national poll of 1,001 adults was conducted from November 27 through November 30, 2016, and has a plus or minus 3.0 percent margin of error. A sample of 501 adults in Florida were also surveyed from November 27 through November 30, 2016. The findings from the Florida survey have a plus or minus 4.5 percent margin of error.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 dollar deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever our students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. We welcome people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourage learners of all generations. We are committed to providing educational opportunities to our nation’s armed forces, our veterans, and their families. We are regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and we guide all our students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

We remain the faithful stewards of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where our founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 15,000 students, we have expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintain a physical presence in seven states. We provide highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 82,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.