Papal visit seen to boost Pinoys’ trust in Pope Francis
Ghio Ong, Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Filipinos’ trust in Pope Francis is expected to rise after his five-day visit in the Philippines and reach the rating obtained by Saint John Paul II in April 1995 when he was still pope, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said yesterday.

“It is expected to increase in the next survey from +59 in December 2014 to the same level achieved by Saint John Paul II in April 1995 at +72,” SWS president Mahar Mangahas said during the 2015 SWS Survey Review at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City.

“By long tradition, the pope of Rome is highly trusted by Filipinos – and more so after visiting the Philippines,” he added.

The Fourth Quarter 2014 SWS survey found 72 percent of adult Filipinos having much trust and 12 percent having little trust in Pope Francis, for a net trust rating of +59, classified by SWS as “very good.”

This was similar to the very good +59 (71 percent much trust, 12 percent little trust) received by Pope Francis in September 2013.

SWS said the pope has always been highly regarded by Filipinos, with Saint John Paul II garnering the highest public trust in the history of SWS surveys.

The net trust rating of Saint John Paul II was a very good +65 when SWS first surveyed it in December 1994. It rose to an all-time high of excellent +72 in April 1995 before it went to very good levels of +58 in December 2003 and +62 in March 2005.

Saint John Paul II, who was dubbed by SWS as the “most popular man,” visited the Philippines in January 1995 for the 10th World Youth Day celebration.

Pope Benedict’s net trust rating, meanwhile, was also very good, at +58, in May 2005.

Hopelessness of people a factor

According to Felicitas Soriano, former president of the Philippine Psychiatry Association, both faith and hopelessness could have gravitated people to the pontiff during his visit.

“We are predominantly a Catholic country and when we have problems or when we feel hopeless, we turn to God. Since the pope is the Vicar of Christ, we saw his coming as an opportunity to be blessed by God. That’s why we saw people bringing their children and the sick to him,” she told The STAR.

She also said the typhoons, earthquakes and other calamities that hit the country in the recent past could have also caused desperation and depression to many Filipinos, but they found hope in Pope Francis.

She noted that the coming of the pope could have become a breather for many amid the worsening poverty and politicking in the government. “Maybe some people have become hopeless that the politicians who are supposed to take care of us are doing otherwise.”

But Soriano said many of those who went to the pontiff’s public events were devout Catholics, so they naturally did not want to miss the chance of seeing Francis in person. – With Sheila Crisostomo

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