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September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis’ U.S. poll numbers have dropped precipitously amid growing criticism by priests and laity alike concerning his handling of the sexual abuse scandals now engulfing the Church. 

According to a poll conducted by CNN, less than half of all Americans (48 percent) now have a favorable view of Pope Francis, down from 66 percent in 2017 and 72 percent during the early days of his pontificate.

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The Pope has experienced a similar drop in popularity among Catholics in the United States, falling from 83 percent in 2013 and 2017, down to just 63 percent today.

In recent weeks, Pope Francis has come under fire for his silence in the face of serious and far-reaching sexual abuse cover-up allegations. He preached that “silence, prayer” are the best response to “wild dogs” who “don’t have good will” – apparently a thinly veiled reference to Archbishop Viganò's testimony.

Then during three of the pontiff’s homilies last week, he implied that clergy and laypeople who criticize members of the hierarchy implicated in alleged sexual abuse and cover-up are doing the work of the devil.  

Anger has reached a boiling point among U.S. Catholics, evidenced in letters addressed to the Pope and U.S. prelates and signed by tens of thousands of concerned women and men.  

Over ten thousand men have asked Pope Francis and the bishops to “purge the corruption” that is disfiguring the Church.  

And the highly influential association of Catholic business leaders, Legatus, has put its annual Vatican tithe of nearly a million dollars “in escrow,” citing the current crisis in the Church. Legatus was founded in 1987 and has 3,000 current members.

According to CNN, the poll was conducted from September 6 through 9 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults reached on landlines or cell phones by an interviewer, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

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