A minority of the U.S. public ( 38%) expresses the view that Pope Benedict XVI is doing an excellent or good job at promoting good relations with other major religions; nearly half (46%) of US adults who have heard at least a little about the pope say he is doing only a fair or poor job at this in a recent Pew poll. Catholics themselves are divided ideologically over the pope’s performance in fostering ties with other religions: 63% of self-identified conservative Catholics say the pope has done well in promoting good interfaith relations, but just 50% of moderate Catholics and 45% of liberal Catholics agree. People who have heard at least a little about Pope Benedict are in general agreement about the pope’s own ideological leanings: 56% say he is either very conservative (20%) or conservative (36%); 17% say the pope is a moderate, while just 5% view him as a liberal. And among Catholics, fully 68% say Pope Benedict is a conservative. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.