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Pope Very Popular In Armenia, Poll Shows


VATICAN - Pope Francis greets the pilgrims during his weekly general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on October 22, 2014.

VATICAN - Pope Francis greets the pilgrims during his weekly general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on October 22, 2014.

Three in four Armenians have a favorable opinion of Pope Francis, according to a worldwide opinion poll conducted by WIN/Gallup International.

The pollster asked people in 64 countries about their attitudes toward the head of the Roman Catholic Church and found that 54 percent of them think well of him.

“Our study shows that an ample majority of citizens of the world, of different religious affiliations and across regions, have a favorable image of the Pope,” the WIN/Gallup International president, Jean-Marc Leger, said late on Thursday, presenting the findings of the survey.

The poll put Francis’s approval rating in Armenia at 75 percent, making him more popular in the South Caucasus state than in the United States, Russia, Germany or France. Only 7 percent of Armenians surveyed disliked the pontiff, with the remaining 18 percent saying that they do not know much about him.

Francis’s popularity in Armenia appears to stem from not only his down-to-earth style and advocacy of social justice but also his public statements referring to the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide.

As recently as in April 2015, the pontiff presided over a mass at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the 100th anniversary of what he called “the first genocide of the 20th century.” The unprecedented liturgy was attended by President Serzh Sarkisian and Catholicos Garegin II, the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It was also broadcast live on Armenian television.

Garegin and Sarkisian personally invited Francis to visit Armenia in 2014, underlining increased links between the Catholic and Armenian churches. A spokesman for the Vatican said last week that Francis plans to pay such a visit in June.

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