Sentiment toward Pope Francis turned sour on social media over his meeting with a Kentucky county clerk who refuses to issue same-sex marriage licenses, data compiled by Thomson Reuters showed.
The ratio of positive versus negative tweets on the pope had been about 2.6 to 1 on average during and shortly after his Sept. 22-27 visit to the United States. But the ratio fell sharply to about even on Sept. 30 after reports of the meeting, which was originally kept secret.
On Friday, the Vatican said there was "a sense of regret" that the pope had ever seen Kim Davis, the clerk who went to jail in September for refusing to honor a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and issue same-sex marriage licenses.
Sentiment toward Davis turned favorable for the first time since Sept. 22 with positive tweets exceeding negative ones by a ratio of 1.2 to 1, the data showed. Davis had been subject to about twice as many negative tweets before Sept 30.
The encounter on the Washington leg of the pope's trip was a letdown for gay and other liberal American Catholics, many of whom had been encouraged by an earlier remark by Francis that "If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"
Using a proprietary algorithm, Thomson Reuters classifies Twitter posts mentioning Pope Francis or his official twitter handle and then derives scores from the volume of tweets identified as positive, neutral or negative in a set period. The counts are from a representative sample.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; Data compiled by Connie Yee, Thomson Reuters F&R Editing by Grant McCool)