The Francis Effect

 

shutterstock_313976906According to a comprehensive Pew poll, since Francis became the supreme pontiff, the number of Catholics in this country has remained unchanged, the rate at which Catholics attend mass has remained unchanged, and the rates at which Catholics go to confession or participate in volunteer activities in their churches and communities has remained … unchanged.

In view of all this, Mollie Hemingway on the Pope’s visit:

It’s wonderful that some people say that Francis makes them feel the church is more welcoming to them. But if it’s just making people feel more comfortable in their politics, instead of making them feel the comfort of absolution, communion and strengthening of faith, that’s not much to get excited about.

Time, I suppose, will tell.

Published in General, Politics, Religion & Philosophy
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 106 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Tony Martyr Member
    Tony Martyr
    @TonyMartyr

    Give that Lutheran a cigar! Mollie hits it on the head again.

    But in fairness to Francis, he has plenty to say on matters spiritual, too. That gets less press attention

    • #1
  2. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    You know what really has inspired me this week, aside from Bishop Robert Barron’s wonderful speech at the World Meeting of Families? The Kendrick brothers’ latest film, War Room. It not only delivers many good and powerful messages, but is well written throughout.

    Y’all should invite Alex or Stephen Kendrick (or both) onto the podcast sometime to explain why Sony and other movie managers are welcoming more conservative and Christian films these days.

    I was shocked that every preview trailer before the movie was for a similarly film with traditional themes. Are there really so many?

    • #2
  3. Roadrunner Inactive
    Roadrunner
    @Roadrunner

    Maybe nobody is going to mass that wasn’t before but Congressman Bob Brady and his lovely wife have been drinking the Pope’s spit and sprinkling it on the grandkiddies.  You don’t see that everyday.   His staff were also pulled into this shenanigan which seems like an appropriate punishment.  One has to be truly thankful that Bobby wasn’t able to locate the Papal latrine.  If there would have been charges for this kind of activity back in the early 16th century, Luther might have had 96 theses.

    • #3
  4. Sidehill Gouger Inactive
    Sidehill Gouger
    @SidehillGouger

    What about us non-Catholics who have always respected the Pope? My personal views have dropped dramatically. I am already tired of the in your face Pope posts on FB

    • #4
  5. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Roadrunner: Congressman Bob Brady and his lovely wife have been drinking the Pope’s spit and sprinkling it on the grandkiddies.  You don’t see that everyday.   His staff were also pulled into this shenanigan which seems like an appropriate punishment.

    Wow. I just read about this.

    My initial reaction was to think that’s nuts. We Catholics do believe in holy water, but that ain’t it. Water is made holy by a deliberate blessing.

    Because human beings are creatures of both body and soul (both are essential; not just the soul), God grants us both physical and spiritual ways of receiving and experiencing His grace. Our sacraments — Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, etc — always involve both aspects. Thus, holy water and holy oil, sacred ground, the Eucharist, the sign of the cross, and so on.

    But on reflection… Christianity does have a long history of saintly relics. Relics have always been part of Christian tradition. Every altar contains one. Here is one famous relic. By God’s grace, saints occasionally leave traces of holiness to continue blessing the living.

    Throughout the stories of Christ, Jesus lays hands on believers to heal them. One woman was even healed as she touched His cloak. Faithful Christians do not just bear witness to Christ, but communicate His love and power. The holiest of saints are sometimes blessed with supernatural gifts to share.

    Not letting anyone else hold the glass is a little weird, but Brady’s faith in saintly presence is actually respectable.

    • #5
  6. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins
    @LeslieWatkins

    For a lot of these folks, comfort in their politics is tantamount to believing they are people of faith who, along with their fellow travelers, are absolved of their failings.

    • #6
  7. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    I read Mollie’s piece. I have absolutely no idea what she was trying to say. The Pope might not draw them in? Should I therefore infer that, in the judgment of his right wing critics, he has failed, and thus his point of view has been discredited?

    I thought the vitriol the left heaped on Paul VI was shrill, but the right wing vitriol makes those boys look like they took a vow of silence. There is nothing Francis can do that doesn’t run up the critics. Nothing. I can’t wait until morning to read all the right wing rags telling us what Francis left out of his brief presentation at last nights events at the world meeting on the family: “He didn’t talk about abortion–he’s a choicer.” He should have discussed ssm marriage, what a fool.” He didn’t praise capitalism; must be a commie.”

    This is utterly out of hand and conservative Catholics who buy into this are dangerously close to scandalizing those faithful who do not see the world in political tones.

    I suppose Francis might have gotten back into the right’s good graces if he’d visited some shrine to Ayn Rand. If only he’d canonized  Hayek–now then he would be a Pope.

    You know, it’s amazing to me to listen to the right extol the virtues of capitalism, then clear it’s throat with “sure, it’s not perfect.” Conspicuously absent is any attempt to actually identify those imperfections, or to offer a single solution.

    Instead, we hear of the wonders wrought by such delightful characters as;

    von Mises: Agnostic;

    Hayek: Agnostic;

    Friedman: Agnostic;

    Rothbard: Atheist.

    And of course the wonderful Ayn Rand.

    I might add that a review of Human Action will show considerable contempt for the Lord. But that’s okay, I guess, because that von Mises character, that was one dandy fellow.

    • #7
  8. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    I don’t know what people expected the perfect model of a modern major pharisee to accomplish.

    • #8
  9. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    “Why can’t we all get along?” is a commendable notion but it never put food on the table. If in addition, you attack the people who do put food on the table for everybody (you know, those pesky capitalists), then you negate the message of goodwill.

    • #9
  10. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Honestly Peter, you’re driving me nuts. They’re are only 3 things that could happen – everything remains unchanged, fewer attend, or more attend. Unchanged isn’t good enough apparently. Down would most certainly be bad. And up we would be concerned about all the lefty fad followers infiltrating our church.

    If the Pope spoke like Reagan, would more people go to church? Churchill? Benedict?

    And if yes, so what?

    I really don’t understand any of this.

    • #10
  11. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Mike Rapkoch @ #7 aren’t you mixing spiritual and economic messages? It sure seems to me that is exactly what Pope Francis has been doing. What has irritated me, not claiming to speak for the entirety of conservatism (or right wingers as you might call them), is the Popes lack of appreciation for what has created this country’s ability to be more giving. Poor people simply do not have wealth to re-distribute — a simple observation from a simple guy, me. When countries have natural disasters I don’t remember Argentina sending any assistance. Maybe I missed it. Individual Americans reach into their proverbial back pockets all the time to help others in need, often from the other side of the globe. I never heard the Pope praise our country for its collective and individual charity. When the Pope speaks about God I listen with respect and try to learn. When the Pope speaks about economics or climate change he doesn’t sound like a Pope, whatever that may be, but instead he sounds like a flaming run of the mill leftist. It’s unfortunate, but that is when my eyes glaze over and and I forget anything good he might have taught me. This is what I believe Mollie was trying to say. BTW, I am not a Catholic.

    • #11
  12. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    I think it’s perfectly fine for a pope or other religious leader to speak out on political issues. After all, a churchman who spoke out against segregation during the 1950s would be well within his rights to do so and would receive praise from most quarters, and certainly from the judgment of history.

    But if he does so speak out, he and his followers should expect a boat load of criticism from those who don’t share those politics. To criticize the pope is not to criticize Catholicism or Christianity or God himself.

    • #12
  13. katievs Inactive
    katievs
    @katievs

    I can say that Pope Francis has had a profound effect on me personally—a lay cradle Catholic conservative who has never doubted the truth of Catholic teaching and has always practiced the Faith. I am a close student and devotee of JP II’s thought. I love Pope Benedict. But this Pope has taught me deep truth about the gospel and about Christianity that I had previously not understood. He’s opened my heart in new ways. And he’s revealed a lot about what’s wrong with the way I had been living and approaching reality before, as a “right-winger”.

    Now when non-Catholics or lapsed Catholics tell me they are attracted to this Pope—how for the first time in decades maybe, they’re thinking of going to Church—my response isn’t to announce they’re deluded if they think he’s going to change Church teaching. It’s rather to feel sorrow over the failure of the Church to date (and here I’m speaking of Church in the sense of “body of believers”) to convey an atmosphere of hope and love and mercy, and it’s to feel joy over the grace at work in front of me.

    The Pope is not concerned with numbers. He’s concerned with persons.

    Pope Benedict has prophesied that the Church will grow much smaller before the renewal comes. Francis is sowing the seeds of that renewal. I wish conservatives would open their hearts to receive them.

    • #13
  14. katievs Inactive
    katievs
    @katievs

    Bradford Wilcox understands the deep unity in the Pope’s teachings on marriage, life and social justice. Nothing is so disastrous for the poor as the collapse of marriage.

    • #14
  15. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    I wonder if the article’s author asked folks in a midwest town about their feelings for Francis and Sunday Mass, instead of Washington DC, would their answers be different? East Coast megacities aren’t real hotbeds of church attendance.

    This article raises the possibility that Pope Francis’ sensibilities have increased the number of men entering seminary in the Philadelphia area:

    Mark Gray, a senior researcher at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, said there was no hard evidence that a “Francis effect” is boosting seminary enrollments or ordinations.

    But he said there had been a positive trend in the United States since Francis was elected pope in 2013. The number of ordinations that year was 494, up from 457 the year before, and in 2014 there were 515 – the first year since 2003 that saw more than 500.

    The reasons religious vocations rise and fall are “very complex,” Gray said, but Francis’ popularity “could be contributing” to the “modest” recent rise.

    • #15
  16. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Man With the Axe:

    But if he does so speak out, he and his followers should expect a boat load of criticism from those who don’t share those politics.

    But can’t you see there isn’t a boatload of criticism. There’s a little shoebox of crazy letters to the editor.

    • #16
  17. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    Hey you know the GOP’s gotta love Francis right now. If only for one reason.

    popef

    • #17
  18. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Instead, we hear of the wonders wrought by such delightful characters as;

    von Mises: Agnostic;

    Hayek: Agnostic;

    Friedman: Agnostic;

    Rothbard: Atheist.

    And of course the wonderful Ayn Rand.

    I might add that a review of Human Action will show considerable contempt for the Lord. But that’s okay, I guess, because that von Mises character, that was one dandy fellow.

    The difference is Von Mises was a giant intellect who perfectly understood the subject matter. Francis is a muddled and confused Leftist.

    • #18
  19. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Mike Rapkoch:This is utterly out of hand and conservative Catholics who buy into this are dangerously close to scandalizing those faithful who do not see the world in political tones.

    I suppose Francis might have gotten back into the right’s good graces if he’d visited some shrine to Ayn Rand. If only he’d canonized Hayek–now then he would be a Pope.

    You know, it’s amazing to me to listen to the right extol the virtues of capitalism, then clear it’s throat with “sure, it’s not perfect.” Conspicuously absent is any attempt to actually identify those imperfections, or to offer a single solution.

    Instead, we hear of the wonders wrought by such delightful characters as;

    von Mises: Agnostic;

    Hayek: Agnostic;

    Friedman: Agnostic;

    Rothbard: Atheist.

    And of course the wonderful Ayn Rand.

    I might add that a review of Human Action will show considerable contempt for the Lord. But that’s okay, I guess, because that von Mises character, that was one dandy fellow.

    Of all the adjectives I may use on Ayn Rand, wonderful would not make the top 20. Even though her contribution was important, there were too many inconsistencies. Not to mention the anger…

    • #19
  20. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    After seeing boehner on face the nation this morning, I am willing to turn my papal skepticism down from a 9 to a 6.

    • #20
  21. Roadrunner Inactive
    Roadrunner
    @Roadrunner

    Aaron Miller:

    Roadrunner: Congressman Bob Brady and his lovely wife have been drinking the Pope’s spit and sprinkling it on the grandkiddies. You don’t see that everyday. His staff were also pulled into this shenanigan which seems like an appropriate punishment.

    Wow. I just read about this.

    My initial reaction was to think that’s nuts.

    You have a very generous view but I would have went with nuts.

    • #21
  22. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    cdor:Mike Rapkoch @ #7 aren’t you mixing spiritual and economic messages? It sure seems to me that is exactly what Pope Francis has been doing. …

    I never heard the Pope praise our country for its collective and individual charity. When the Pope speaks about God I listen with respect and try to learn. When the Pope speaks about economics or climate change he doesn’t sound like a Pope, whatever that may be, but instead he sounds like a flaming run of the mill leftist. It’s unfortunate, but that is when my eyes glaze over and and I forget anything good he might have taught me. This is what I believe Mollie was trying to say. BTW, I am not a Catholic.

    One might see this a bit differently.  The Catholic Church is the largest provider of charity in the world.  Food, clothing, medical services, education.  You noted that you are not Catholic.  I had already figured that out.  You wanted the US to be praised for its generosity.  Okay.  Our country is very generous and Americans at large (especially conservatives of a moral or religious leaning) are individually very generous.  But not as generous as the Catholic Church around the world.

    Of note, whatever Francis’ faults, he is begging for those who otherwise would not be attended to, who actually go to bed hungry, and then wake up hungry.  Francis is not stroking egos.  Feel generous?

    • #22
  23. Dean Murphy Member
    Dean Murphy
    @DeanMurphy

    “Not letting anyone else hold the glass is a little weird, but Brady’s faith in saintly presence is actually respectable.”

    Except he venerates Mr. Obama’s glass as well.

    • #23
  24. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    It seems clear to me that this Pope’s view is heavily influenced by Liberation Theology.

    His message is just slightly off – He downplays the talk of Christ in favor of environmentalism and ‘social justice’.

    • #24
  25. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    I have been a Christian for a long time (protestant).   I have prayed, and read the Bible.  I have listen to many different people speak on the nature of God and what God expects of us – from many different backgrounds and perspectives.    I just don’t ‘hear the voice God’ in a lot of his speeches.  Sorry, but I don’t.  I hear the voice of man in him – a man trying to be noble, to be sure, but a man nonetheless.  A man relying on his own understanding.

    And its not the ‘criticism’.  We’re all sinners – and often messages from God will be uncomfortable, because we have far to go in our quest to ‘resemble’ Christ.

    Its not a “catholic” thing.  I had the greatest respect for JPII.  Benedict seemed just fine.

    • #25
  26. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    And, if its possible for people to ‘spin in their graves’, JPII must be spinning like a fan.  He tried very hard to put down liberation theology in the church.  And now it heads the church!

    • #26
  27. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    Marion Evans:

    Mike Rapkoch:This is utterly out of hand and conservative Catholics who buy into this are dangerously close to scandalizing those faithful who do not see the world in political tones.

    I suppose Francis might have gotten back into the right’s good graces if he’d visited some shrine to Ayn Rand. If only he’d canonized Hayek–now then he would be a Pope.

    You know, it’s amazing to me to listen to the right extol the virtues of capitalism, then clear it’s throat with “sure, it’s not perfect.” Conspicuously absent is any attempt to actually identify those imperfections, or to offer a single solution.

    Instead, we hear of the wonders wrought by such delightful characters as;

    von Mises: Agnostic;

    Hayek: Agnostic;

    Friedman: Agnostic;

    Rothbard: Atheist.

    And of course the wonderful Ayn Rand.

    I might add that a review of Human Action will show considerable contempt for the Lord. But that’s okay, I guess, because that von Mises character, that was one dandy fellow.

    Of all the adjectives I may use on Ayn Rand, wonderful would not make the top 20. Even though her contribution was important, there were too many inconsistencies. Not to mention the anger…

    i was making an attempt at irony. Ayn Rand was a detestable human being. But I’ll pray for her.

    • #27
  28. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    jetstream:

    Instead, we hear of the wonders wrought by such delightful characters as;

    von Mises: Agnostic;

    Hayek: Agnostic;

    Friedman: Agnostic;

    Rothbard: Atheist.

    And of course the wonderful Ayn Rand.

    I might add that a review of Human Action will show considerable contempt for the Lord. But that’s okay, I guess, because that von Mises character, that was one dandy fellow.

    The difference is Von Mises was a giant intellect who perfectly understood the subject matter. Francis is a muddled and confused Leftist.

    I don’t deny von Mises economic knowledge. However his criticism of Christianity shows a meager grasp of Christian teaching and a paucity of knowledge over the Catholic moral dimensions of economic. Despite his sometimes errant views, Francis does understand Catholic social teaching. The world may reject those views, but a Pope is obliged to teach them anyway.

    • #28
  29. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    LilyBart:And, if its possible for people to ‘spin in their graves’, JPII must be spinning like a fan. He tried very hard to put down liberation theology in the church. And now it heads the church!

    If this is what you believe, perhaps you’d write a conversation and describe all those speeches where liberation theology is espoused by Francis.

    • #29
  30. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    donald todd:

    LilyBart:And, if its possible for people to ‘spin in their graves’, JPII must be spinning like a fan. He tried very hard to put down liberation theology in the church. And now it heads the church!

    If this is what you believe, perhaps you’d write a conversation and describe all those speeches where liberation theology is espoused by Francis.

    I don’t need to write it – its been written about and discussed by a number of people from Charles Krathhammer to Salon and the Daily Beast.  Just google it.

    Edit:  The topic has been well covered by better writers than I: Forbes, The Telegraph……

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.