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85 percent of Italians approve of Pope Francis

June 20, 2013 at 12:40 PM

VATICAN CITY, June 20 (UPI) -- A large majority of Italians -- 85 percent -- say they approve of Pope Francis, a poll released Thursday indicated.

The poll, conducted by the Demopolis Institute, said the pope's popularity in Italy has helped boost confidence in the Catholic Church by 15 percent since January, Italy's ANSA news agency reported.

About 26 percent of poll respondents said they are skeptical about the church's future, but the majority said they believe Francis would contribute to the church making a comeback, the poll found.

"The impact of Pope Bergoglio on public opinion is extraordinary," said Demopolis Director Pietro Vento.

"The biggest influence has been the spontaneity of the Pope's language, as shown by 75 percent of the people interviewed, but also his simplicity and closeness to the people, mentioned by almost seven interviewees out of 10," Vento said.

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