Why young people like the pope more than the church

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Why Young People Like the Pope More Than the Church

The pope is making his first U.S. tour and young people might have more to get excited about than they did with previous popes.

Pope Francis is known for engaging closely with the public and for his more liberal stances on climate change, poverty and financial reform.

See more coverage of the pope's visit: What non-Catholics think about the pope's visit ​

"Make a mess, but then also help to tidy it up. A mess which gives us a free heart, a mess which gives us solidarity, a mess which gives us hope," Pope Francis said in address to young people in Paraguay earlier this summer.

Some of his stances have cost him favorability with conservatives, according to a July Gallup poll. But a more recent survey from the Public Religion Research Institute shows the pope is more popular with young people than the church itself.

See how kids at a New York Catholic school are preparing for his visit:
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Kids prepare to meet Pope Francis
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Why young people like the pope more than the church
Fourth-grader Benjamin Grassia is interviewed during a news conference at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic school in New York, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. Benjamin will be among the 24 students to meet with Pope Francis in a private audience during his visit to New York in late September. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Principal Joanne Walsh sits next to third-grader Allison Reyes-Rodriguez as she is interviewed by a reporter at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic school in New York, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. Allison will be among 24 students to meet with Pope Francis in a private audience during his visit to New York in late September. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Fourth-grader Benjamin Grassia is interviewed during a news conference at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic school in New York, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. Benjamin will be among the 24 students to meet with Pope Francis in a private audience during his visit to New York in late September. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Third-grader Emely Rodriguez is interviewed during a news conference at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic school in New York, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. Emely will be among 24 students to meet with Pope Francis in a private audience during his visit to New York in late September. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Third-grader Allison Reyes-Rodriguez looks up at principal Joanne Walsh, during a news conference at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic school in New York, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. Allison will be among the 24 students to meet with Pope Francis in a private audience during his visit to New York in late September. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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His popularity is partly reflected in his place as the most retweeted world leader, according to Twiplomacy, an organization that studies the Twitter use of governments and international organizations.

Religious leaders and writers have been wondering why and how the charismatic pope might attract young people to the Catholic Church since early in his papacy.

The perception that he's less punitive than other Catholic leaders could be helping.

"Pope Francis [isn't] contradicting the church in any way. I don't think he's out to change church teaching. But what he wants to do is say, 'We've done a great job saying no, but let's do a better job of saying yes to things,'" faith writer Christopher White said during a Huffington Post interview.

The poped-out Jeep Wrangler he'll be sporting during his U.S. visit probably won't hurt his cool points either.

Read more special coverage on Pope Francis' visit to the U.S.
What non-Catholics think about the pope's visit ​
The significance of Pope Francis' visit with President Obama
Can a papal visit cure what ails American Catholicism?


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