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Poll: Majority of Americans Have Favorable Opinion of Pope

Pope Francis caresses a child during his weekly general audience, in the Pope Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Aug. 19, 2015.

The majority of Americans have a 'favorable' opinion of Pope Francis, according to a new poll released ahead of the Catholic leader's first trip to the United States.

The survey, issued by Quinnipiac University, found that 87 percent of Catholics and 63 percent of people with no religion have a "very favorable" or "favorable" opinion of the pontiff, in addition to 69 percent of women and 63 percent of men, also polled.

The survey showed that 43 percent of Americans believe the Catholic Church of today is moving in the right direction, compared with 21 percent who say it is not. Catholics agree with the direction of the church at an overwhelming 70 percent, with 36 percent of Protestants and 44 percent of those with no religion also in agreement.

"Pope Francis is sparking a resurgent confidence in the Catholic Church," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. "More Catholics, Protestants and those with no religion believe the Vatican is steering The Church in the right direction."

Pope Francis's six-day visit to the U.S., which begins on September 22, includes a visit with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House, speeches before a joint session of Congress and the United Nations General Assembly, and Mass before the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

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