Impact of Pope Francis’s Visit

Pope Francis’s historic visit to the United States marked the first time a Pope has visited since Pope Benedict XVI’s stay in April of 2008. Pope Francis’s six day stopover in the United States began on September 22nd and concluded on September 27th, including stops in Washington D.C., New York, and Philadelphia.

While in Washington, Pope Francis was given a chance to address Congress, making him the first Pope to do so. Pope Francis, not one to mince words, spoke on an array of hot-button topics ranging from religious tolerance, compassion for the poor, global warming, and abortion. Perhaps no topic received as much media attention as the Pope’s talk on immigration. During the speech he stated that the United States should not be taken aback by the number of immigrants, but see them as human beings looking for a way to find a better life.

He closed the segment by reciting the notable phrase by Matthew: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In addition to his meeting with Congress, Francis canonized Spanish missionary Junipero Serra; the first time someone has been canonized on American soil. After arriving in New York, Pope Francis made a visit to Ground Zero and met with the U.N. General Assembly, giving a speech on the importance of placing humans and the earth over money. During the final stretch of the Pope’s American journey, Francis hosted a mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, where he stressed the importance of “little gestures,” and showing compassion for fellow human beings.

Pope Francis’s visit made an economic impact as the three visited cities saw a revenue increase while the Pope was in town, with Philadelphia seeing the largest revenue hike. Flight bookings to Philadelphia for the week of September 21st reportedly jumped 165 percent, according to Expedia. Initial estimates reported that the Papal visit to Philadelphia could generate as much as $418 million of economic impact, however more recently the number was said to have possibly passed $500 million. In addition to the influx of money being brought into the cities, the visit also gives an opportunity to promote the city to new visitors.

Pope Francis’s visit to the United States has done far more than added revenues to cities. A new poll conducted by Pew Research Center shows that ideological liberals and moderates, along with Democrats, are especially likely to say Francis has given them a more positive view of the Catholic Church. After the Pope’s visit, twenty-eight percent of American adults say that they have a more favorable view of the Catholic Church because of him. Pope Francis’s own favorability rating rose to sixty-eight percent, which is four percent higher than the last poll in June. It is speculated that this increase is due to the Pope’s favorability among non-Catholics, which is now at sixty-five percent, which is seven percent up from June.

When respondents were asked to name one word that they associate with Pope Francis, seventy-six percent named a positive word, while only twenty-four percent named neutral or negative word. Among the words that made up the majority of positive submissions were “good, humble, kind,” and “compassionate.” It is increasingly apparent that Pope Francis has made a positive impact on the current generation of Americans, and this past trip has taken another step to solidify that.