‘Francis Effect’ Boosts Attendance at Italian Churches

The charismatic Pontiff has helped bring more lapsed Catholics back into the fold

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Pope Francis greets the crowd as he leaves the basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels as part of his pastoral visit in Assisi on October 4, 2013. Pope Francis visits Assisi for the first time today to honour the saint whose name he adopted for a papacy aimed at promoting peace and helping the poor, the Vatican said.

Italian Catholic churches have the Pope to thank for a rise in attendance, according to a study published Monday that calls his influence the “Francis effect.”

Researcher Massimo Introvigne, head of Italy’s Center for the Study of New Religions, found that 51 percent of 250 priests that he interviewed reported a significant rise in attendance at their churches since Pope Francis was elected in March.

“If we project those results nationally, and if only half the parishes and communities in Italy have been touched by the Francis effect, then we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people who are returning [to the church],” Introvigne told the Guardian.  In a smaller survey of 22 British cathedrals, there was also a reported “Francis effect,” with 65% of the respondents saying they had noticed a rise in attendance.

According to two of Italy’s most senior clerics, Francis is having the biggest impact on Catholics that have long steered clear of the church. Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, the archbishop of Florence, said, “So many are returning to the sacraments, in some cases after decades.”

Some theorize that Francis’ popularity stems from his embrace of humbleness. Pope Francis is known for refusing the luxurious trappings of the papacy and advocating a simpler Church.

[The Guardian]


Pope Francis = Pope Awesome The First


I have always been critical of the Catholic church for their overemphasis on issues like abortion, marriage and contraception .  That focus has been too narrow and alienating.  Too dogmatic.  And ignores the central message of Christianity:  Love for our fellow men.
Indeed, Republicans have long been able to harness those same issues to entice Catholics to their side of the political divide...even though Republicans are hostile to other Catholic traditions like helping the less fortunate , opposed equalizing the wealth inequality, and in favor of such things like capitol punishment.

 It wasn't that long ago that President Obama's speech at Notre Dame University was met with hostility by many Catholics.

With Pope Francis, Republicans may soon lose their hold on the Catholic vote.  Pope Francis seems more interested in lessening human suffering and following the message of christ rather than the ideology of gays, abortion and contraception.

Plus his desire to live simply also resonates with a lot of alienated Catholics


His humbleness is certainly one aspect, but the church is much more appealing to Catholics who prize han dignity above church doctrinaires who focus on gay marriage and abortion. In this Pope is a man people are willing to follow. Who acts as a shepard. In him, Christianity, is revealed as service. Catholicism is once again shown as a gift.