Survey reveals how American Catholics will communicate about Pope Francis’ visit to the United States

  • Millennial Catholics surveyed are more likely than Catholic non-millennials to say they plan to attend the visit in-person and use technology to stay connected with the Pope: Millennial Catholic Americans are twice as likely to say they plan to attend the Pope’s visit in-person (23%) compared to Catholics overall (9%). Even if they can’t attend in-person, millennial American Catholics are the most likely to keep in touch with the Pope or Catholic Church on social media (60%).

A Better Network to Help Customers Communicate

In preparation for this historic event, Verizon has spent the last year and a half enhancing its network to help customers in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York communicate.  It invested $1.6 billion since 2014 in the regions where Pope Francis will visit, building new cell sites, boosting capacity on existing sites and activating small cells in the areas where events will take place.  It will also deploy mobile cell sites, including Cell on Light Trucks (COLTs) and Cell on Wheels (COWs), in those cities this week.

In Philadelphia, where the Papal Mass is expected to attract between 1.5-2 million people, Verizon invested $24 million in readying the network, effectively quadrupling capacity in the downtown area. A distributed antenna system (DAS) was also recently installed near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Verizon is leasing space on this system, which also helps boost capacity.  

In Washington, D.C., and in New York, Verizon network teams have been working alongside officials in developing plans to support the papal visit.   These ongoing meetings provided information vital to Verizon’s plans to finalize network enhancements needed for the increased demand for wireless service during the many events next week.

With the exception of the mobile cell sites, all of these enhancements are permanent infrastructure that will remain in place after the papal visit. The enhancements were already on the company’s build schedule over the next couple of years; Pope Francis’ visit gave Verizon the opportunity to accelerate the timelines to help customers stay connected during the events.

Watch Pope Francis’ visit on FiOS

FiOS customers can view the live broadcast of all of the Pope’s public appearances on the dedicated papal visit channel, FiOS channel 601 (HD) and 61 (SD). Customers in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, New York, can also watch reporting, coverage and analysis on FiOS1.

Survey Methodology 

Verizon engaged KRC Research to conduct this online survey among 604 Catholic American adults between August 27 and September 10, 2015. Participants had the option of taking the survey in either English or Spanish. Data was weighted by gender, age, region, education and household income to mirror the distribution of U.S. adults who are Catholic.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, employs a diverse workforce of 178,500 and generated more than $127 billion in 2014 revenues. Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with 109.5 million retail connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America’s most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers worldwide. For more information, visit www.verizon.com/news/.

  • Many American Catholics surveyed use technology as part of their faith and say it would be hard to give up mobile technology: Half (51%) of Catholics say they’ve done one or more of the following:
    • Shared religious views on social media (34%)
    • Used a faith-related mobile app (24%)
    • Used a mobile phone to coordinate plans around a religious event (18%)
  • Millennial Catholics are particularly likely to have used their mobile devices for a faith-related reason:More than two thirds (68%) of millennials surveyed have used their mobile devices for religious activities:
    • Shared religious views on social media (43%)
    • Used a faith-related mobile app (40%)
    • Used a mobile phone to coordinate plans around a religious event (27%)

Pope Francis will be visiting an American population that is communicating via their personal devices and taking part in national conversations on various digital platforms more than ever before.  A new survey of American Catholics ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States shows that this will be a historically unprecedented communications moment.

Verizon, which invested more than $1.6 billion in its networks since 2014 to help boost capacity in the regions where the Pope will visit and made specific local investments in both its wireless and wireline networks to prepare for the papal visit, sponsored the survey by KRC Research to learn what American Catholics are saying about Pope Francis, his visit, and how they plan to communicate and share about it.

The survey asked questions about how American Catholics see the relationship between Pope Francis and communications technology, view the upcoming papal visit, plan on communicating about the visit, looking at the views of millennials, age 18-34,  and Spanish-speaking Catholics in particular.

Among the findings from the survey, key takeaways include:

  • American Catholics say Pope Francis has better connected the Catholic Church with technology, including social media: 89% of Catholics surveyed say Pope Francis has made the Catholic Church more in touch with the tools of modern communication, like social media.
  • Nearly half of American Catholics use social media to keep connected with the Pope or Catholic Church: 48% of Catholics surveyed say they keep in touch with the Pope or Catholic Church on social media.
  • American Catholics plan on actively following coverage of the Pope’s visit to the U.S.: Even if they can’t attend any of the Pope’s public appearances in the U.S. in person, 83% of Catholics surveyed plan on following coverage of the Pope's visit.
  • Spanish-speaking American Catholics are particularly plugged-in: 97% of Spanish-speaking Catholics surveyed say they use a smartphone or tablet, compared to 83% of Catholics surveyed.
  • American Catholics will overwhelmingly be using technology to share the experience of Pope Francis’ visit: If given a chance to attend a public appearance by the Pope, 79% of Catholics surveyed would use technology to share the experience, compared with 89% of Spanish-speaking Catholics surveyed and 89% of millennial Catholics surveyed.