An opinion poll reveals that the Pope remains the favorite personality of the Italians in the peninsula, even as his popularity rating tends to crumble. At the same time, Sunday practice is also experiencing a decline in Italy.
“Pope Francis and the Church in Italian Opinion.” This is the title of the poll carried out by the Demos Institute on behalf of La Repubblica, which published it in its January 23, 2023 edition. It should be noted, however, that this poll is already two years old.
We learn that the Sovereign Pontiff enjoys a confidence index of 68% in the Italian population, which makes him the most popular political figure among Italians, just before the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella.
It is a confidence rating that stood at 88% at the beginning of the Pope’s reign, in 2013, a high percentage which is probably explained by the Italian nationality of the current successor of Peter. In comparison, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI enjoyed a popularity index of 77% in 2003 for the former, and 54% in 2007 for the latter.
Another lesson from the survey: although the Roman pontiff still enjoys the confidence of two-thirds of the Italian population, it is among the elderly and women that his popularity has declined the most in 10 years.
Political color also plays on the trust enjoyed by Pope Francis. The popularity index is highest among center-left Democratic Party voters (92%) and tends to decrease the further one moves to the right of the political spectrum: 64% of Fratelli d'Italia voters have a good opinion of the Pope and 68% of those in the League.
The last lesson of the survey is more worrying: confidence in the Church as an institution continues to decline; thus, 20% of Italians go to Mass at least once a month, which is ten percentage points less than at the start of the current pontificate.
Nor will anyone be surprised to learn that it is among the youngest that the greatest number of desertions is observed: 26% of Italians over 65 attend Mass every Sunday, a figure which falls to 12% among those under 30.