Vatican has said the raid "will not influence" the pope's trip to Cyprus, from which the flotilla set off. Image Credit: AP

Washington: Americans are losing faith in Pope Benedict XVI amid a flurry of sexual abuse cases linked to priests in Europe and the United States, according to a CBS News poll.

The survey, released on Friday and conducted March 29 to April 1, found the pope's unfavourable rating jumped to 24 per cent, up from a mere four per cent in 2006.

His favorable rating was 15 per cent, roughly the same level it has held for the past four years.

A child abuse scandal has engulfed much of Europe and the United States in the past weeks, prompting harsh criticism of the Vatican's handling of the scourge.

Pope Benedict XVI faces allegations that, as archbishop of Munich and later as the Vatican's chief morals enforcer, he helped to protect predator priests.

Among US Catholics, the pope's favorable rating fell to 27 per cent, down 13 points from 40 per cent in 2006, according to the CBS poll.

Thirty-six per cent of Catholics said they were "undecided" about the leader of their church, up 21 percent from four years ago.

More than two thirds of Americans, including 55 percent of Catholics, said the pope, who has served since April 2005, had poorly handled charges of abuse by priests.

Only 13 per cent of all respondents, and one in five Catholics said the pope had done a good job on the scandal.

The telephone poll was conducted among 858 adults across the United States.

Its margin of error was plus or minus three percentage points for results based on all respondents, and CBS said the margin of error was higher for subgroups.