Nationally, Catholics Have Higher Opinion of Catholic Church Than Last Year

ST. LEO, FL – While a new Saint Leo University poll shows Americans’ favorable opinion of the Catholic Church remains almost the same as in November, the public’s opinion of the Church’s leader Pope Francis dipped.

As part of a Catholic university, founded on Benedictine traditions, the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( conducts surveys on topics that affect Catholics and the public’s opinion of Pope Francis. The most recent poll was conducted online from February 17 through February 22, among 1,000 total respondents nationally.

Overall favorable opinion (strongly and somewhat favorable) of the Catholic Church in the United States was 43.6 percent in February 2020—up from 42.0 percent in November 2019. As the poll has an associated margin of error of +/- 3.0 percentage points, the results are statistically the same. In April 2019, the favorable opinion measured at 40.1 percent.

Among Catholics, the favorable opinion (strongly and somewhat) was recorded at 73.5 percent, which is up from 69.3 percent in November 2019 and increased significantly from 57.1 percent in April 2019.

The favorability rating for Pope Francis decreased to 52.2 percent from 56.6 percent in November 2019 and from 57.9 percent in April 2019. The pontiff garnered a favorability rating of 55.6 percent in the February 2019 poll, 44.7 percent in October 2018, and 64.4 percent in August 2018.

Among Catholics nationally, the pope’s favorable opinion rating is 74.6 percent, down from 78.1 percent in November 2019.

About the Poll

METHODOLOGY: This national survey was conducted from February 17 through February 22, 2020, among a base of 1,000 respondents nationally, using an online instrument. The national sample has an associated margin of error of +/- 3.0 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence for questions asked of all 1,000 respondents.

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 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 also be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

Media contacts:

Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Writer & Media Relations,, (352) 588-7118 or cell (813) 610-8416

Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text).     

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation, offering nearly 60 undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs to more than 19,500 students each year. Founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks, the private, nonprofit university is known for providing a values-based education to learners of all backgrounds and ages in the liberal arts tradition. Saint Leo is regionally accredited and offers a residential campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, 32 education centers in seven states, and an online program for students anywhere. The university is home to more than 95,000 alumni. Learn more at