All week long, NY1 is taking a look at what New Yorkers think about Pope Francis. In our latest report, we ask whether they think he is bringing change to the Catholic Church. Courtney Gross has the exclusive results from our City Poll.
When Pope Francis stepped on American soil, he started his first address taking on climate change and then moved on to the sex abuse scandal shrouding the Catholic Church.
"And when we bring succor, then, the victims are healed. We have to hope that such crimes will never repeat themselves," he said.
It is moments like these that have led some to see this 78-year old pontiff as a change agent.
"He just takes a, he makes you rethink a lot of your thoughts," said one New Yorker.
"His opinions about abortion, etc., he is much more open," said another.
We asked New Yorkers and found in our exclusive NY1/Baruch College city poll that they were split. 41 percent said Pope Francis becoming the leader of the Catholic Church was a major change. 35 percent said it was a minor change. 3 percent said it was no change. 16 percent were unsure.
"New Yorkers are somewhat split on whether this pope is really doing more than other popes, or doing the same as other popes. Nobody thinks he is doing less," said Mickey Blum, a pollster with Baruch College.
That divide was also seen when we asked about specifics - for instance, whether Pope Francis has done more than other pontiffs to address the issue of sex abuse by priests. 38 percent said he has done more, 3 percent said less and 36 percent said there was no difference. Some 17 percent were unsure.
On other issues, New Yorkers were on the same page as Pope Francis. For instance, earlier this year, Pope Francis gave priests discretion to absolve women who have had abortions, which the church considers a sin. Nearly 60 percent of New Yorkers said that was a welcome change. 8 percent called it unwelcome. 13 percent said it was no change in the church's attitude.
Much of this is only a change in tone. None of the church's 2,000-year-old doctrine has been modified when it comes to these divisive issues.
"I think the pope's been pretty consistent," said one New Yorker.