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Pope Francis Will Have His Own Good Friday

Pope Francis

Pundits are calling it the “Francis effect,” and it’s blowing up the blogosphere. Parishes around the world are seeing increased mass attendance and interest in the Catholic Church from disaffected Catholics. This uptick has been noted in The Sunday Times, The Guardian, and CBS. Here’s how The Week described it:

Pope Francis is charming non-Catholics, and even a few atheists, but on Monday Italy’s Center for the Study of New Religions (CENSUR) showed that he’s quite popular with Catholics, too. CENSUR sociologist Massimo Introvigne found that after Francis was elected pope in March, more than half of the 250 priests in Italy he interviewed reported a significant boost in attendance numbers as disenchanted Catholics started to return to mass… He adds that he noticed a rise in attendance right after Francis was elected, and assumed it might be fleeting, “but after six months I got more or less the same result” […]

Introvigne tells The Guardian that the “Francis effect” is being felt in Britain, too, where an impressive 65 percent of 22 cathedrals are reporting fuller pews in the age of Pope Francis.

Many people are rightly excited by this trend. As Ross Douthat has argued, the mission of Pope Francis’ papacy might very well be to resuscitate the “religious middle.” That’s a worthwhile mission, and it’s encouraging to see that, for now, Francis is having some measure of success. But every Palm Sunday is followed by a Good Friday, especially in a faith where adherents are promised they will be persecuted just as Christ was.

Sooner or later Pope Francis will do or say something that cuts against the grain of elite Western opinion. Those gushing over the Francis effect should brace themselves for periods in which public opinion will turn against him.

[Image of Pope Francis courtesy of Getty Images]

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  • Corlyss

    Interesting report, given the fact that so far Francis appears to be “protestantizing” the Church into the Catholic equivalent of the Unitarians and the American Episcopalians, i.e., they stand for little except standardless acceptance of all the kinds of behaviors the Catholics used to denounce.

  • tarentius

    Pope Benedict XVI was the wrong man at the wrong time. Essentially he was a provincial European who didn’t understand the Americas and Asia. Increased attendance at Sunday mass in the UK and Italy hardly portends a dramatic resurgence since Italy’s churches are almost totally empty on a Sunday and the number of Catholics in the UK is miniscule. Pope Francis is a media darling precisely because he has moved to the left towards godless liberalism. He is hardly popular with Catholics who not only know what Church doctrine is but believe in it. They are the strength of the Church. As Francis’s Papacy matures and he has to confront the tough doctrinal issues, not administration, his Papacy will seem less and less successful.

  • wigwag

    Best Pope since John XXXIII, at least for non-Catholics.

  • BobSykes

    As to persecution, try Matthew 5:11-12 et al.

    The MSM and the elites are not really listening to Pope Francis. He has not repudiated any Catholic doctrine; he has only changed the tone and emphasis. Sins like homosexual acts are still condemned but sinners including homosexuals are warmly invited into the Church, which will encourage them to repent and reform their lives.

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