Poll Shows Pope's Approval Rating is at 88 Percent

Pope Francis got a great present just in time for his first Christmas at the Vatican. A CNN/ORC International poll that found his approval rating is a super-high 88 percent among American Catholics. Now, an 88 might just be a below-average grade at Harvard, but in the land of approval ratings, it's almost unheard of — Congress would give an arm and a leg to get one half that high. And that approval rating translates to Americans overall as well, likely making him the most popular religious figure in America today.

As we reported, Pope Francis might just be the pope of the century. He's refocusing the church, and de-emphasizing beliefs that have traditional symbolized a disconnect between American Catholics and the church hierarchy. “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security,” he wrote in his mission statement for the papacy. At another time, he replied "Who am I to Judge?" when asked about gay Catholics who seek God. Which, of course, aligns with American Catholics — like the kids who organized a protest when their Catholic school's vice principal was asked to resign after he married a man.

The polls say it's working for him. Two-thirds of American Catholics say he's paying just the right amount of attention to issues like abortion and homosexuality, and over 85 percent say that's he's neither too liberal nor too conservative, but just right. And, 86 percent of American Catholics say he's in touch with the modern world, unlike one of his predecessors, John Paul II, who more than half of Catholics said was out of touch at the end of his reign as Pope.

Of course, the poll only surveyed 1,035 people between Dec. 16 and 19, and only 191 of them were Catholics, so the findings should be taken with a grain of salt. But, if media responses to the pope are any indication, he might just be the global Mr. Congeniality.