The Catholic Church has been on a rapid downfall in popularity among those of the faith and those inside the church. Whether it was another priest scandal, or followers were taken back by past papacies stands on world issues, It is clear that the church is in desperate need of guidance for the church to thrive through the new millennium it needs a pope worthy of bringing the masses together with a virtuous mucilage that will be more stalwart than in the past.
Pope Francis maybe such an answer. Italian Catholics credit Pope Francis with a boost in the attendance in congregation. The “Francis effect” seems to be catching on. With 51% of 250 priests that were interviewed by researcher Massimo IntroVigne all noticed a significant rise in church attendance . The “Francis effect” even spread in Great Britain where the 76-year-old Argentinian Pope has a big impact as well. A survey was done on 22 British cathedrals and 65% of them noticed a rise in attendance. Even months after the Pope’s commencement the numbers still showed more attendance in the church than before. Cardinal Guiseppe Betori, the arch bishop of Florence said: “So many are returning to the sacraments in some cases after decades.”
Giovanni D’ Ercole , said in an interview with the daily LaStampa that “Francis makes headway above all among those who had distanced themselves from Christian life.” Bringing the Catholic Church back to its conspicuous cannot rest solely on Pope Francis, but through a re-introduction to Catholicism and being made to feel welcome. One thing that didn’t go over well with the church was the Pope’s stance on advocating for a simpler, poorer and less bureaucratic church. Keep in mind Francis’ predecessor was nicknamed the “Prada Pope” for effusive taste. Pope Francis chose a simple apartment and a bus instead of a mansion and limousine. The name Francis pays tribute to St. Francis of Assisi, a 13th century Catholic friar who showed a great love for animals he called birds “his sisters” and the environment St. Francis also dedicated himself to the poor and reform.
One example of Pope Francis is he opted to live in a small studio in Vatican residence, the Casa Santa Marta instead of the 12 plus room papal apartment on the top floor of the Apostle Palace. Pope Francis advocates for the environment “I would like to ask all those who have position of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill. Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and the environment. He also blessed 35,000 Harley Davidson riders that came to St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. He also blessed a disabled boy accompanied by one of the motorcyclist. In return the riders imprinted Francis’ smile on the flags they decorated their bikes with. Harley Davidson even donated two white Harley’s to use in the Vatican police . He also tweets. One example of such a tweet is: “With the “culture of wastes,” human life is no longer considered the primary value to be respected and protected.
Even Atheists are sharing Pope Francis quotes along with praise for the Pope. The Lord has redeemed all of us, with the Blood of Christ. all of us, all of us not just Catholics. Everyone! Father, The Atheists? Even the atheists. Everyone!…………..But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!” But do good: We will meet one another there. Pope Francis celebrates public mass and opts for walking when his security team wants him to ride. He even traded his bullet proof glass popemobile(papacey has used it since 1981) to ride in a open-air white Mercedes Jeep so he can get out again and again and greet those crowds.
Another heartwarming act Pope Francis has done is on a holy Thursday ritual the Pope washed and kissed the feet of 12 individuals in a juvenile detention center. This is a reenactment of how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. The mass was held at Casal Del Marmo facility. The 12 selected it was reported that some were Orthodox and Muslims and two of them were women. Francis told the detainees that Jesus washed the feet on the eve of his crucifixion in a gesture of love and of service. When the Vatican released the video of the ritual it showed a limited amount of footage showing Pope Francis washing white feet, black feet, female and male feet.
When he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires, former Cardinal Jorge Mario, Bergoglio would practice this ritual with hospice patients, hospitals and jails. He sought out the poorest and most marginalized of society. He says he wants a church for the “poor” now that he is pope. The fact that he included women in the ritual especially since it usually ONLY consists of male participants to represent Jesus disciples. The washing of the feet and kissing them on women was a groundbreaking tactic that Rev. James Martin was quoted, “It shows the all-embracing love of Christ, who ministered to all he met: man or woman, slave or free, Jew or Gentile,” he said.
So here is what the pope had to say about gays which usually is a divide for those who are proponents for gays and the churches ideological stand on the matter.When he was asked about a “gay lobby” in his own backyard he gave this answer to reporters “Who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith?”he said.During a flight to Rio De Janeiro Pope Francis was asked a number of questions from reporters during his flight and unlike his predecessors he answered questions fully and looked happy while doing so. He gave his opinion on issues such as austerity for cardinals and gave his reasons why he feels an austerity is necessary for someone working in the service of the church.
He also touched on removing the armor from his cars, traveling plans for the year, women in the church, Benedict XVI, Divorced and remarried catholics, John Paul II and a host of other topics, nothing was off-limits. Pope Francis spoke for an hour and a half without being prompted and answered all questions. His next feat was less conversational and more a piece straight to the heart. A little boy made his way on stage during the Pontiff’s address to a crowd. The boy in yellow was in fact an orphan named Carlos who took a liking to Pope Francis. The boy ushered families to meet the Pope during the service and even sat in his chair. When a cardinal attempted to remove the boy off, the boy quickly clung to his new Pope friend. Pope Francis was amused and pictures show the Pope patting the boy heads while speaking to the mass of families. This Pope is awesome.
If that wasn’t enough, Pope Francis in another prayer service in Vatican City, his Holiness is seen gently kissing the head of a man who has been disfigured by a rare form of cancer. Earlier this year he was quoted as saying, “The Pope must serve all people, especially the poor, the weak, the vulnerable.” It seems like he is walking the walk not just talking the talk. One thing is for certain, the Pope wants to know more about modern family. No, not the show that made Sofia Vergara a star. Honestly, he has a real interest in the modern family way of life and their struggles coming to church.
His focus goes from gay marriage to divorce couples. Pope Francis wants to start a grass-roots effort that starts from the parishes around the globe in preparation for the next years synod of Bishops. “It’s fascinating, “said Thomas Groome, a professor of theology at Boston College. “It’s pretty astonishing,” agreed Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of the gay Catholic organization Dignity USA. Praise goes to Francis on two fronts, first it seeks input from rank and Roman Catholics, second, it touches issues that might have been considered off-limits in past papacies.
The document asks questions involving same-sex unions, mixed marriages, single parent families and surrogate mothers.
- “In the case of unions of persons of the same-sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?
- “Do the divorced and remarried feel marginalized or suffer from the impossibility of receiving sacrament?
- “In cases where non-practicing Catholics or declared non-believers request the celebration of marriage, describe how this pastoral challenge is dealt with.”
A senior Vatican official defends the questionnaire making the argument that the church remains loyal to the vision, family is where a man and a woman procreate children. “I think it demonstrates a grounding in the practical realities in the world,” Duddy-Burke said. “To my knowledge, it’s the first time in history of the magisterium we have genuinely attempted to consult the laity,” he said. “At least he’s started the conversation,” Groome said. “All of these things have been closed issues and you could be fired for even talking about them. Raising these questions and polling people. It at least signals something other than a closed mind. You have to thank God for small mercies.”
Pope Francis is showing a genuine interest in the changes of a modern world and what directions he can guide Catholicism. He walks the tightrope act of not coming across to progressive and not having an old relic mindset, the kind that insisted the world was flat and the universe revolved around us.