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World News

Catholics under 30 give Pope Francis the thumbs up

by Heather Preston

Pope Francis has the highest approval rating among Catholics under the age of 30 thatn any other age group, according to a new report.

Research carried out by St Mary's University London and the University of Leicester revealed that the current pope has the most consistent popularity among younger generations of devout Catholics.

The study, 'Everybody Loves Francis? British Catholics' Job Approval Ratings of the Pope' surveyed nearly 2,000 british Catholics on opinions relating to the Pontiff.

Participants were asked to rate the current Catholic leader on a range of issues from evangelism, his response to sexual abuse within the Church, traditional moral values, climate change, the poor and gender equality.

The data revealed a more consistently positive response to the Pope across all categories from those aged under 30.

Stephen Bullivant, professor of Theology and Sociology of Religion at St Mary's University told the Telegraph he was slightly surprised by the findings, but noted that Francis' popularity amongst Catholics has increased rapidly since his election on 13th March 2013.

Prof Bullivan told Premier why this was: "Speaking out on the poor, to addressing climate change, to addressing the sex abuse crisis, to addressing the church bureaucracy - you saw this pattern of most Catholics are pretty happy, under 30s more happy, practicing Catholics even more happy. practice, practicing Catholics who are under 30 are in the 80s to 90s per cent of approval."

He explained: "We've got to the point where, if you're in your 20s, and you are still ticking the Catholic box, then you're probably actually quite committed and into it and invested. Because if you're not you no longer have a reason to tick the box.

"The few who do still see themselves as Catholic, and particularly the practicing, tend to be really on board with the Church and the Pope."

The survey also found 70 per cent of British Catholics saw Pope Francis as representing a 'change of direction' for the papacy. This rose to 87 per cent among weekly mass goers.  

Fifty per cent of Catholics regard Pope Francis as a change for the better, compared to seven per cent who see him as a change for the worse. 

According to a YouGov, poll the Pope is the third most popular world figure among the general British public. 

Its survey reveals 34 per cent of people hold a positive opinion of him, compared to 19 per cent who view him negatively while 39 per cent had a neutral opinion.

YouGov says fans have described him as: "in touch with ordinary people, humble, stands up for ordinary people, honest and genuine.heather

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