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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Pope Francis not boosting U.S. Catholic attendance

  • Despite heavy approval for the pope, U.S. Catholics aren't attending church any more than they did last year.
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  • Positive reviews have surrounded Pope Francis since he assumed the papacy earlier this year. But the papal praise isn't translating into much more than that among the United States' Catholic population, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. After pooling research surveys since Pope Francis was elected in March, Pew found the 22 percent of Americans who identify as Catholics was unchanged from the same stretch of months in 2012. "In fact, our polls going back to 2007 show Catholic identification in the U.S. has held stable, fluctuating only between 22 (percent) and 23 (percent)," Pew reported. About 80 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the pope, the Deseret News reported in September. NBC News similarly reported that the pope has received positive reviews from a large part of the world. "The plain-spoken pontiff has earned raves for his populist message, personal humility and conciliatory attitude on the hot-button issues of homosexuality, abortion and contraception," NBC News reported. But that message, perceived as more liberal than his predecessors, is turning off conservative Catholics in the United States, which has the fourth-highest number of Catholics in the world, The New York Times reported. "Some Catholics in the church's conservative wing in the United States say Francis has left them feeling abandoned and deeply unsettled," wrote the Times' Laurie Goodstein. "On the Internet and in conversations among themselves, they despair that after 35 years in which the previous popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, drew clear boundaries between right and wrong, Francis is muddying Catholic doctrine to appeal to the broadest possible audience."%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//beacon.deseretconnect.com/beacon.gif%3Fcid%3D127151%26pid%3D46%22%20/%3E
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