ROME— Three years into his papacy, a recent study shows global admiration for Pope Francis is in sharp decline.
The pontiff fell seven spots in 2016, from sixth down to 13th among the world’s men, the biggest drop for anyone on last year’s list, and is now no longer either the planet’s most admired spiritual leader (the Dali Lama) or even the most admired Argentine (soccer star Lionel Messi).
However, Pope Francis remains the second-most admired man in the United States after President Barack Obama.
That’s according to a study released by YouGov, an international internet-based market research firm headquartered in the UK, which ranks the world’s 20 most admired men and women separately.
According to YouGov, the pope’s drop may be explained by expectations of reform that distanced Francis from his predecessors, which have dimmed as the Argentine pontiff becomes “institutionalized”.
According to the study, American billionaire Bill Gates and Russian President Vladimir Putin both have better numbers than the pontiff.
The 2016 “world’s most admired” poll, conducted in 30 countries, places Gates in the first slot, U.S. President Barak Obama second and Putin sixth out of the top 20 most admired men.
On the women’s side, Angelina Jolie leads the chart, followed by Queen Elizabeth II, Hillary Clinton, Oprah, Michelle Obama, and Celine Dion.
Among American men, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, finished 18th, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, facing Clinton in the still-ongoing Democratic primaries, closes the list.
The leader of the French far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, also made the top 20 most admired women in the world.
Altogether, YouGov polled in countries that constitute nearly two-thirds of the world’s population. The list of 30 includes nations such as China, India, and Pakistan, where Christians represent less than three percent of the total population.
Breaking down the results by country shows that in China Francis ranks 17, in India he has the last slot, while in Pakistan he’s not even in the top 20, coming up in number 25.
One surprising result is Brazil, the country with the largest number of Catholics in the world, who represent 85 percent of the population, and a nation Francis visited in 2013. There, he only ranks 20th, meaning he had a better finish even in Russia (19), an Orthodox country where Catholics represent just 0.6 of the total population.
A similar situation occurs in Mexico, where Catholics amount to 90 percent of the population, and Francis ranked only ninth, with the Dalai Lama heading the chart.
The only country where Francis headed the list was the Philippines, another country where Catholics represent an overwhelming majority (82 percent), and where Catholic faith and practice remains pervasive.
According to the polling house, since the research is internet-based, some parts of the world were better represented than others. YouGov said they increased the impact of certain countries on the final scores and downplayed others, so the scores more accurately reflect the breakdown of sentiment around the world.