Following his first visit to the United States as spiritual leader of the world’s Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI is viewed more favorably than he was a few weeks before his trip. Currently, 61% of Americans say they have a favorable impression of the pope, up from 52% in late March. Views of Pope Benedict’s outreach to other faiths have shown substantial improvement. Roughly half (51%) of those who have heard at least a little about the pope say he has done an excellent or good job with respect to his interfaith efforts while just 29% rate his efforts in this area as only fair or poor. In late March, the public was evenly split in assessments of the pope’s promotion of relations with other religions in March (39% excellent or good vs. 40% only fair or poor).
Opinions of Pope Benedict’s handling of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal, an issue raised by the pontiff several times during his visit, are more mixed. About half (48%) who have heard something about the pope rate his efforts in addressing the scandal as only fair or poor, while 39% say he has done a good or excellent job in this regard.