Over breakfast Thursday morning, The Washington Post (which I "eat" almost daily with my oatmeal) greeted me with new polling data on Pope Francis :
"Among Catholics, 92 percent have a favorable view of Francis and 95 percent say the same of the church," the paper reported. The poll, released Dec. 11 was commissioned by the Post and ABC News.
The story went on to note: "Francis's popularity marks a large increase from Pope Benedict XVI's 76 percent favorable rating in a Post-ABC poll in February just after he announced his retirement."
The rise in popularity is especially noteworthy, according to the article, among liberal Catholics and non-Catholics.
For those who have been following Francis, this is not a surprise. Although I personally take issue with him on his understanding of -- and approach to -- women, I nonetheless recognize the enormous cultural shift he is attempting to bring to contemporary Catholicism.
He is moving away from a rigid, rule-based, doctrine-laden Catholicism to an open, warm, flexible Catholicism that sounds and smells like the Gospel.