Sunday, September 15, 2013

“SuperPope” Francis Approval Ratings Down

SuperPope Bergoglio has a falling approval rating
among Roman Catholics
Pope Francis’s “approval rating” is down 5% since he was first elected, according to a Pew poll.

Matthew Schmitz, writing in First Things, is lamenting that Pew Research has been polling on Pope Francis’s approval ratings in the first place.

His complaint:

But what point is there in an approval rating of a pope? … approval ratings have an ideological function. Not only do they measure reality, they suggest a way of thinking about the world. A way of thinking not terribly appropriate to the body of Christ.

First of all, suggesting that any given pope is part of “the body of Christ” is, to borrow a phrase, “begging the question”, especially in front of the “ecumenical” audience to whom First Things presents itself.

As well, for Roman Catholics, it really doesn’t matter who the pope is, just so long as there is a pope. “Apostolic Succession” has reduced itself to this mindless and thoughtless rehearsal of ancient rituals, just for the sake of keeping them going. The impersonal Roman machine just keeps on running.

But my question is, if you’re going to get the warm fuzzies when a pope is put out in front of the media as some kind of superstar, what ground do you have to complain when that same media starts doing what the media does.

So far, Pope Francis is known for:

condemning the use of chemical weapons and leading a prayer vigil for peace in Syria. He previously had received media attention for his vow to reform the Vatican bureaucracy; washing the feet of young prisoners (including two women) during a Holy Thursday ceremony; and taking a humble approach to the trappings of the papacy, including his decision to reside in a modest residence rather than more spacious accommodations. The pope also has surprised a number of individuals around the world by reportedly calling to discuss problems in their lives. Perhaps most prominently, Francis made headlines in July for his comments about homosexuality on his return from World Youth Day in Brazil, when he said to reporters aboard his plane: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

But chin up Matthew. Bishop of Rome Bergoglio still enjoys almost an 80% approval rating among Roman Catholics in the US. Some 60% of the “general public” also has a mostly “mostly favorable” view of him.

What ought to be more worrisome is that some 20% of Roman Catholics believe they can’t give him a “very” or “mostly” favorable rating at this point. It appears, from the poll, that it may be some conservative Roman Catholics who are among that 20% who disapprove of Pope Francis. “Some of [his] actions, such as the washing of women’s feet, have drawn criticism from traditionalists in the church, according to news accounts,” the article says.

That 20 % disapproval rating is a number that’s sure to rise, but hey, Francis has still got the opportunity to spend that political capital wisely.

And on-tap: we’re still waiting for the “reform” of the Curia. That ought to affect the approval rating. (Geez, who’d a thunk of “reforming” the way “the Church” does business?)

The irony of that word “reform” is rich, given Rome’s centuries-long heel-digging followed by the Vatican II “aggiornamento”, followed by the efforts by two popes to put the brakes on such “aggiornamento”. One gets the impression of a wobbling top that’s about to have its bottom spin out from under it.

That’s the trouble with some of these polls. You can’t tell whether someone likes someone (or dislikes someone) for the right reasons or the wrong reasons.

A pope is the titular head of all of Roman Catholicism – a religion which is a detour far from the truth of historical Christianity. In simply being “pope”, then, he is spreading falsehoods.

That’s reason enough to disapprove.

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