The Pope Francis Effect: 8 Ways He’s Changing the Catholic Church

So we know by now that Pope Francis is different. But is he changing more than just the tone of … Continued

So we know by now that Pope Francis is different.

But is he changing more than just the tone of the church with his renegade style? Here are eight ways Catholics say he’s reshaping the church.

1. Reports of a return to Mass

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and popular author, said that Francis is having an impact in his parish and that he has heard from many fallen-away Catholics who have been inspired to re-embrace their faith.

“I personally know people who are going back to Mass because of him. They feel more welcome, they feel like the pope understands them, they enjoy his way of speaking about the faith, they feel energized and this includes young people, gays and lesbians, women, elderly people even who say that they’ve never felt this way about a pope or about the church. It’s incredibly inspiring and he’s really speaking to people in a new way.”

2. For others, Francis is a call to self-critique

Matthew Archbold, who writes for the conservative outlet National Catholic Register, found himself sobered by Francis’s comments. As someone who is involved in antiabortion work and who supports efforts to defend traditional marriage, Archbold said that “the perception that we sometimes give off” can sound unwelcoming. “Instead of treating a person as a person, you’re just throwing the rules at them.”

Reading Francis on Thursday, he said, “gave me pause, because as someone who writes every day, sometimes I can be quick to fling arrows out at those I disagree with. I really thought of myself. I thought, I am guilty of this and I think that’s why I hope we all take a moment to reflect that that we really have to emphasize the love that the church brings.”

3. Rome is buzzing

According to Rome Reports, a Vatican-focused news group, “the attendance for Pope Francis’ audiences are three times larger than the initial statistics for John Paul II and Benedict XVI.”

4. Reports of a return to the confessional

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales found through a survey of its member parishes that there has been an “increase in lapsed Catholics seeking to return to religious practice under Pope Francis,” including through an increase of participation in Confession, a Sacrament that absolves sin and returns the penitent to what the church calls “a state of grace.The Catholic News Agency is dubbing these reports of a revitalized faith the “papal bounce.”

5. Making the papacy popular after a difficult decade

And at the Religion & Public Life center at the Pew Research Center, pollsters recently found that American Catholics overwhelmingly hold positive views of the pope:

6. A rush of positive press

Blogging for the Oregonian,writer and teacher Tammy Ellingson says she wants to hug Pope Francis. Religion writer Cathleen Falsani isn’t afraid to admit it: She’s got a major crush on Pope Francis. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes says this is the best. pope. ever. An Atlantic headline read that the new pope is “pretty rad.” Esquire said the new pope pope “is kind of awesome.” And we didn’t even get to “America’s most famous Catholic,” His Humorousness Stephen Colbert’s high papal praise by-way-of-insult. Enough said.

7. A trending pope

We’ve seen months of “pope,” the leader of one of the oldest religious institutions on Earth, trending on Twitter. He’s led the day, making A1 on dozens of newspapers, including The Post. His selfie went viral. Did we mention that the 76-year-old has 3 million Twitter followers on his English page alone?

8. He’s energizing the faithful


Elizabeth Tenety
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  • Lynd

    No mention of Popacabana? The world’s biggest (youth) gathering in decades?

  • momx4at35

    He still took the side of the last pope on the issue of the American nuns. When he changes his mind on that, I will believe he is not just a member of the old boy’s network.

  • rb847

    What a tragedy it is that Pope Francis is abandoning 2,000 years of Catholic doctrine for the sake of “going along with the crowd” on issues of moral importance such as biblical views of homosexuality. Although on the surface Pope Francis attempts to make himself appear as a “reformer” and “modernizer” of the Catholic Church, there is in fact NOTHING that makes Pope Francis unique. He is merely following in the footsteps of failed leaders of other religious communities who were willing to compromise their religion’s values for the sake of appearing to “fit in” with the crowd. What the world needs is a leader willing to stick out his neck to stand up for the principles he believes in, not someone who looks to public opinion and everyday social trends to dictate the course of their doctrines, willing to do anything to draw in as many adherents as possible, even at the sake of compromising essential and long-cherished moral values.

    I myself am not a Catholic, but my heartfelt sympathies go out to Catholics worldwide who are baffled by the Pope’s rolling back of centuries of Church doctrines in the name of “tolerance” and “brotherly love.” Just because others do not accept your values does not mean you should compromise them if you really believe in them. When Jesus Christ was on earth, very few accepted his teachings and moral principles. Did Christ compromise his teachings and values for the sake of gaining as much approval as possible from the masses? Of course not. Why? Because he was a true leader who actually taught what he believed-not what he thought others wanted to hear. If Pope Francis were half the leader of many of the Popes before him, he would not try to compromise Church doctrines to make the Catholic Church somehow fit in with new social trends. Instead, he would do more to try to help society realize where they may have gone astray, and to help them readjust their lives to true gospel principles. God’s truths are eternal and NEVER change.

  • tonycentrist

    Nobody is baffled except the modern day equivalent of the Pharisees. They were also baffled then by someone who loved people, even when they didn’t follow the rules; by someone who tried to help people get back on the right track instead of vilifying them.

    BTW, Jesus had little effect when he was on earth. Very few people even knew who he was. One more example of someone becoming famous by being martyred!

  • tonycentrist

    Dear Pope,
    We’ve been doing what you’re preaching for years. Call off the dogs!
    Love, American Nuns

  • Snip

    Jesus had huge crowds following Him listening to His every word, according to the Gospels. He was popular; please note entry into Jerusalem. And, after His Resurrection, He has had millions of followers.

  • SmarterthantheaverageBear1

    I’m pretty sure that ‘love one another as I have loved you’ is more fundamental to Jesus’ teachings than judging each other. Oh, yeah, ‘judge not for as you judge, you shall be judged’. Hmm… Seems like Francis is following Jesus pretty closely. There’s something about removing the log from your own eye first and ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone’… I don’t find your version of Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament. Are you saying you selectively follow the parts of the Bible you like? Isn’t judging others and making them children of hell a way to set yourself above them? It’s much harder to examine yourself and grow than it is to point fingers and that’s why Francis’ messages are hard to actually follow. But easy spirituality of the kind you advocate is creating a moral wasteland on Earth today.

  • auntywbush1

    Curious, as a non-catholic you share my view that the Catholic Church doctrine is man, not God, made. Hence, the doctrine can and should evolve as we learn more about our humanity.

    I have studied the Catholic Doctrine, along with others, most of my 84 years. Had enough respect for it 60 years ago to marry a Catholic, but being non- religious, would never join that, or any other Church.

    But organized Religion has done its share of good- along with some obvious evil. I note many flaws in all religions, including Catholicism, who, in its long history, has arguably adopted many practices inconsistent with the teachings of Christ, as we know them.

    For a Pope to work toward a more Christ-like Church may be heresy for some. But he surely is a breath of fresh air and more Christ-like to this nonbeliever, who none-the-less believes Christ to be a great, great teacher

  • isafakir

    I SUPPOSE rb847 never read paul on love ın first corınthians, nor the gospel of st john. tolerance and brotherly love are the doctrine of the christian church: god loves us and commands us to love each other. there ıs no other christianity. paul says that jesus put aside his divinity to become one of us, to suffer wıth us for our sakes, and if we love each other our sins are forgiven, even if we don’t, we are united in christ as one body. there ıs no higher aspiration in the christian religion than love, loving each other because that is who we are. the pope has no higher duty than to be a lover of the people.

    the church is not doctrine. st paul says so. the church is the love and the giving and the forgiveness we have for each other. nobody ıs perfect. but all through history god has said that our faults don’t matter if we take care of each other, serve each other, gıve and forgive. ın deuteronomy god says choose, a lıfe of love or a life of selfishness. god gave abraham a sacrıfıce, promising forgiveness. god passed over his people promising forgiveness. jesus came to prove once and for all the completeness of god’s forgiveness, god’s mercy being boundless greater than anythıng else.

    that ıs the Law, the Prophets, the Gospel, and the teaching of the church through eternity.

  • kloanchoyss


    Bravo! This quondam boy-preacher [now 64 years as a militant atheist] wishes you the very best in your struggle to recapture the church & impose your neo-Thomistic views upon it….our global takeover will be delayed a generation or so until the Franciscan interlude fades into the mist of ineluctable Reaction… we bask meanwhile in the warmth of reason & science [pending surcease in the Void]…Cheers!

  • CarolfromCalif

    Pope Francis has a hard road to travel and needs our prayers to guide/help him along his journey. He has asked the Catholics to stop talking about the Church’s problems but how can they do that when the priests are still abusing children? This has got to STOP! It’s continuing and these EVIL nests of priests that continue to do this are back stabbers to all the good Pope Francis is trying to do and a shame to all Catholics and the World. Here’s an excerpt from the latest BBC South America article. “The auxiliary Catholic Bishop in Peru, Gabino Miranda, was removed from his post accused of sexually abusing children. The Public Ministry of Peru reported that Ayacucho prosecutor opened an investigation against the priest and that “in the coming hours” will take appropriate action.” These kind of EVIL priests are Satanic, God help and protect all of us from them.

  • FelicityHangnail

    So now the Catholic CHurch is changing it’s dogma, etc. to adopt to the times and modern expectations…….so much for claiming to be an institution that sticks by it’s “values”…….but this is totally expected from an organization that is so evil.

  • FelicityHangnail

    Dear Pope, get off the pot and hand over all those Catholic child molesters and Catholic protectors of tese molesters to law-enforcement investigators and prosecutors…….quit trying to redirect attention away this most important issue….why has the Catholic Church continued to protect these criminals??????

  • masaccio1

    The people who are upset are the JPII catholics. All us John XXIII Catholics, lapsed or not, love him a bushel and a peck.


    The man is changing no dogmas or basic teachings that are all rooted and founded in the Bible. You who have a false story about the RC Church need a powerful shower and a clean heart to be cleansed of fake poision


    The Catholic Church has done all it can to stop child abuse while State schools provide married, single male and female abusers to this day. Lay off the RC Church the media exaggerated its sins and neglect the ret of the scandals to come-Hollywood, the entertainment industry globally, Protestant and Jewish clergy. We need consistency and not sniper fire at the RC but tackle all evil everywhere and stop naming moral evil such as abortion “reproductive rights” and pretend that a normal marriage is equal to sterile Dick and Dopey union

  • Catken1

    State schools, if they find out about abuse, fire and report the abuser. They don’t just quietly transfer him or her to another paid position.

  • Catken1

    “stop naming moral evil such as abortion “reproductive rights” and pretend that a normal marriage is equal to sterile Dick and Dopey union ”

    If you consider it “moral evil” to treat a woman as a human being who owns her own body parts, rather than a thing to be used for someone else’s good, and to define marriage by love, commitment, and mutual care rather than by animalistic physical fertility, you have no moral sense or morality to speak of. If you consider it morally good to treat pregnant women as property and to attack other people’s marriages, families, and the kids they love and are raising, making their lives harder and more painful just because you don’t like the sex of their partner, then you are not a moral human being.
    In America, we do not allow you to treat another human being as a thing owned by another, because your religion considers that being female and having sex (or being raped) is a crime reducing a woman (but only a woman) to subhuman status for nine months. In America, we do not allow you to veto someone else’s marriage or treat them as second-class citizens solely because your religion doesn’t approve of their choice of spouse. (And while you allow women who have had hysterectomies and castrated men to marry at will, while barring gay and lesbian couples from marriage who have been and are raising healthy, happy children, the claim that marriage is mostly for physical procreation goes out the window.)

  • Stanley James

    If he wants real respect…………….

    women as priests

    Shut up about gays marrying except publically make hte point to all that the church has the absolute right to do or not do any ceremony as they believe.

    Trash every bshop who was involved in the endless hidden molestationof children

    RE-Excommunicate Bishop williamson – a holocaust denier who RATZInger UnEXed

    Supprot what 90 to 98% of catholic women support – birth control

    /then he can put a sign over the vatican gate – “we’re in the 21st century.”

  • Stanley James

    So someone want to go back 2000 years – when the church ruled Europe and Diederot , a French philosopher had a for the times soluion as hte french went to war to break the stranglehold of catholic kings and rome

    “mankind will be free when the last king is strangled with the guts of the last priest.” don a god job with the kings – gone or powerless. No more theocracies – we have enough troble with theocracies in Islam

  • Stanley James

    about 1.5 million people showed there

    close to 5 million in Brazil supported gay pride this year – why so many more – 14 of Brazils 28 states have marriage equality and per their scotus the rest are implementing it

    In Just latin america – Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Mexico have it. Columbia wll have civil unions or marriage – its confusing

  • joeO2

    Why do public schools in the US and the MSM? More children are molested by public school teachers than any one else but the MSM rarely informs on this, why?

  • leibowde84

    If a teacher is accused they are immediately turned over to the police. There is no internal discussion … which is the problem with the RC Church in this regard. They seem to feel as if they should think about the reputation of the Church, when nothing could be further from the truth.

  • leibowde84

    What’s changing in Dogma? I didn’t see anything. Merely a change in emphasis.

  • Guest2424

    I think you may be nitpicking at the pope now. He’s making great strides for the Catholic church to become more open to everyone. And even with God’s favor, he is still just one man. Plus I don’t think he wants to put a sign over the Catholic Church that says “we’re in the 21st century”. I think he just wants to find a medium where gays, lesbians, and anyone else who used to be stigmatized, who choose to be faithful can be faithful without resentment.

  • Jenny Roca

    Maybe God is answering our cry-out for a down to earth pope….

  • Rongoklunk

    Of course – to the church nothing is more important than the survival of the church. If science was able to prove that no god ever existed – the church must disagree, otherwise it ceases to exist. When we consider that our ancient ancestors were forever inventing gods – we have to surrender to the obvious likelyhood that current gods were also man-made.

  • Rongoklunk

    As an atheist I can see clearly that the church’s biggest problem is the education of the masses. Education and science and even 21st century commonsense does not recognize anything supernatural, which includes ghosts and goblins and gods and gremlins and a thousand other made-up characters. Priests and bishops are selling a god who doesn’t exist. That’s why nobody ever saw a god in the whole history of the world. They exist in the mind, and nowhere else. It is in fact the greatest scam of them all; telling people exactly what they want to hear.

  • Rongoklunk

    If there actually was a god – the pope wouldn’t have a problem. A real god would do something to show he actually exists, and make the pope’s day – in these troubled times, when most grown-ups no longer believe the nonsense about an invisible skygod watching over us. It may have made sense a few hundred years ago when we didn’t know any better. But since Darwin – and his discovering how evolution works – and which shows that the bible got it all wrong, and in a world where scientists write books explaining how the universe began without mentioning a god – you have to wonder how much longer can religion survive in this very rational world – without a scrap of evidence for the existence of gods. More and more it resembles a Walt Disney level of reality and wishful thinking.

  • CCNL

    Eight things that have not changed:

    1. The Resurrection con still remains.

    2. The Angel cons are still present.

    3. The Eucharist is still considered the body and blood of JC and therefore remains one of the most infamous theological errors of all time.

    4. The after-life of Limbo, Heaven and Hell continue to exist but are more infamous theological flaws.

    5. Confession/Reconciliation still remains but needs to be thrown on the myth pile.

    6. Atonement theology continues to exist as a monument to the stupidity of all Christians.

    7. And all-male, mostly white, aging hierarchy.

    8. A pristhood that is restricted to men. An abomination to fairness !!!

  • CCNL

    Eliminate items 1-> 6 and you will take care of items 7-> 8.

  • Bluefish2012

    9. All that and He loves you anyway.

  • CCNL

    Who is the he?

    This guy?

    Jesus of Nazareth was a bit “touched”. After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today’s world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J’s gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today’s followers of Paul et al’s “magic-man” are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and “magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah/Argentine white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

  • hmr

    Why human beings have a belief and faith in this that: ‘two plus two is equal to four’? All kinds of hardware, software, machineries and physics including human machinery is based on this mathematics. There will be no balance if both sides aren’t equal. Mountains, earth and stars, all function based on this simple mathematics. Can you change that behavior? Can you change that nature? Can you change that sense of analysis? Can you bring another belief and faith to replace this? All sciences, technologies, physics, mechanics and machineries are for human beings to treat, evaluate and analyze them. Without human beings, these things will continue to work silently in the smartest manner and discipline based on mathematics as they work on mars or else. But, without mathematics, these things wont work even if human beings force them to work. Human beings cannot run away from mathematics. Mathematics is the system of nature. Mathematics is not a crime. Mathematics is justice. This is Catholicism.