A Gallup poll has found that Pope Francis' favorability rating in the U.S. has fallen significantly from last year, and now less than half of conservatives have a favorable opinion of him. Gallup suggested that the change is due to the pope's strong messages on human responsibility in climate change and his condemnation of the world's "idolatry of money."
"This decline may be attributable to the pope's denouncing of 'the idolatry of money' and attributing climate change partially to human activity, along with his passionate focus on income inequality — all issues that are at odds with many conservatives' beliefs," Gallup analyst Art Swift wrote on Wednesday, according to Religion News Service.
Among all Americans who responded to the survey, most, or 59 percent, still held a favorable view of the pontiff, with 16 percent holding an unfavorable view, and 25 present stating they have no opinion. The level of support is down from the last poll from February 2014, however, where Francis enjoyed 76 percent favorable ratings. more >>
A major global poll by Pew Research Center has listed climate change, the economy, and ISIS as the top three greatest threats the world faces today. The Islamic militant group was the top threat identified by respondents both in the United States and Europe.
On a worldwide basis, respondents identified climate change as the top threat in the world today, with the majorities in most countries in both Latin America and Africa noting that they are very concerned about the issue.
"Publics in 19 of 40 nations surveyed cite climate change as their biggest worry, making it the most widespread concern of any issue included in the survey. A median of 61 percent of Latin Americans say they are very concerned about climate change, the highest share of any region," Pew noted. more >>
Pope Francis has called the unfettered pursuit of money "the dung of the devil" in a strongly worded condemnation of the global treatment of poor people. Speaking on Thursday at the World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Francis also told Christians it is their "commandment" to fight for the "just distribution of the fruits of the Earth."
Francis, who is on a tour of several South American countries, told the Bolivian faithful that as the scientific community warns, "irreversible harm" is being done to the ecosystem, which is "brutally punishing" entire populations. He then referred to the "unfettered pursuit of money" as the "dung of the devil," which leaves behind the service of the common good:
"Once capital becomes an idol and guides people's decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home." more >>
Pope Francis started his nine-day tour of Latin America, his first as pontiff, on Sunday, arriving in Quito, Ecuador, where he said, "No one, save Jesus Christ, possesses his or her own light." During his trip, Francis is likely to focus on poverty and inequality as well as reiterate his concern for the environment.
"I have come as a witness of God's mercy and of faith in Jesus Christ," Francis said in his prepared remarks at the welcome ceremony Sunday in Quito.
Children in traditional dress greeted the pope at the Mariscal Sucre airport, and shook hands with many of them. more >>
Close to 100 evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders in the U.S. have united in a message calling on Christians to act on their "moral obligation" to fight climate change, which they also called a pro-life issue, following on Pope Francis' environmental encyclical released last week.
"As Catholic and evangelical leaders, we are deeply inspired by Pope Francis' encyclical addressing our shared responsibility to be prudent stewards of creation. Pope Francis has issued a bold call to action, and the clock is ticking on a challenge that requires a collective effort in service of the global common good," the religious leaders said in a full-page advertisement on the back page of Politico.
"As citizens of the most powerful nation in human history, we have a unique responsibility to promote sustainable development, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and build a thriving culture of life that protects human dignity," they added. more >>
It's courageous, it's prophetic, it's challenging, it's holistic, it's wonderful: That's what I think of Pope Francis' environmental encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home."
Quoting his patron saint, Francis of Assisi – who is also the patron saint of ecology – Pope Francis begins his papal letter with a beautiful verse from the saint's Canticle of the Creatures: " 'Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.'
"St. Francis of Assisi reminds us," writes the pope, "that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. … more >>