In the United States, which Francis visits in September, the Pew survey shows he has a 78 percent favorable rating.
But John Allen, the veteran Vatican analyst for The Boston Globe, says the first pope from the global south has irritated some conservative Americans by criticizing laissez-faire capitalism and the ills of globalization.
“In his bones, the defense of immigrants is a hugely important issue, immigration is a divisive political question in the United States,” Allen says. “He is deeply suspicious of free market global capitalism. (The U.S. is) the mother ship of free market global capitalism, so there is some resistance there.”
There is also resistance within the Catholic Church, and Vatican analyst Politi fears what he calls the strategy of the swamp.
“A lot of people in the church hierarchy let him speak, applaud and do nothing,” he says.
A pope alone, says Politi, cannot change an institution with 1.2 billion members.
“For a pope to change the church, you need an engaged laity, you need engaged theologians, really engaged pro-reform bishops,” he says.