VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 13:  A woman holds rosary beads while she prays and waits for smoke to emanate from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel which will indicate whether or not the College of Cardinals have elected a new Pope on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI's successor is being chosen by the College of Cardinals in Conclave in the Sistine Chapel. The 115 cardinal-electors, meeting in strict secrecy, will need to reach a two-thirds-plus-one vote majority to elect the 266th Pontiff.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
The Catholic Church's response to sexual abuse allegations
02:45 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

After new sexual abuse allegations against Catholic priests and criticism of Pope Francis’ leadership on the issue, his favorability in the US has dropped substantially in a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.

Only half of Americans – 48% – say they have a favorable view of the Pope, down from two-thirds who said the same in January 2017 and 72% who said so in December 2013, a few months after he was first elevated to the position.

The poll was conducted before news that the Pope has called an unprecedented meeting of top officials in the church over the sexual abuse scandal, scheduled for February.

Related: Cardinal Wuerl to dicsuss possible resignation

Specifically among US Catholics, his ratings have fallen from 83% favorability a year and a half ago to 63% now – a 20-point drop.

Among Americans over the age of 45, favorable views have sunk 24 points, from 68% to 44%, while those under the age of 45 have only had a 10-point decrease.

There has been a slightly steeper decline among women (down 20 points, to 51% favorability) than among men (down 15 points, to 45% favorability). Democrats also lost positive views on the current leader of the Catholic church, from 79% favorability in 2017 to 57% now. Republicans had a smaller drop, due to their lower ratings of Francis to begin with, at only 54% in early 2017 (and 36% now).

The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS from Sept. 6 through 9 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.