Poll: Visit to U.S. Boosts Pope Benedict's Public Image
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
Following his first visit to the United States as spiritual leader of the world's Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI is viewed more favorably than he was a few weeks before his trip. Currently, 61% of Americans say they have a favorable impression of the pope, up from 52% in late March. Views of Pope Benedict's outreach to other faiths have shown substantial improvement. Roughly half (51%) of those who have heard at least a little about the pope say he has done an excellent or good job with respect to his interfaith efforts while just 29% rate his efforts in this area as only fair or poor. In late March, the public was evenly split in assessments of the pope's promotion of relations with other religions in March (39% excellent or good vs. 40% only fair or poor).
Opinions of Pope Benedict's handling of the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal, an issue raised by the pontiff several times during his visit, are more mixed. About half (48%) who have heard something about the pope rate his efforts in addressing the scandal as only fair or poor, while 39% say he has done a good or excellent job in this regard.
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