National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

How to measure the Francis effect

 |  NCR Today

Bill D'Antonio is well known to the readers of the National Catholic Reporter as the sociologist behind the NCR survey of American Catholics. He is author of American Catholics in Transition, and Religion, Politics, and Polarization: How Religion/Political Conflict is Changing Congress and American Democracy. As a result, he is the perfect man to give us a reflection of the recent Pew study on the American response to Pope Francis. Here are his thoughts:

The focus of the Pew Research Report is the traditional one, namely church attendance, and praying.  

But is that the message that Francis has been trying to promote?  I don’t see Francis spending much time and energy on trying to talk more people into regular Mass attendance, or force structural changes (women and married priests), or normative changes ( birth control, same sex marriage, etc).

Rather, I see him saying, let’s not get tied up in  the rules and structures right now.  Let’s focus on Jesus’s message, and the message was not “be sure to get to the Synagogue every Friday.”  How many times do we find that message in the four gospels?  No, he has priests out on the streets at night not to bring in the poor for mass, but to literally be Eucharist for those found in the streets and alleys and other places where those who might be in need of the message of love and caring are found.

Francis has already begun to make changes where he has full authority, and these changes  may lead to the kind of change brought about by the actions taken by Pius XII and which we identified as one of his most important actions as pope over a 20 year period.  In 1946 he appointed 32 cardinals from outside Europe, and then in 1953 another 24;  these new appointments became crucial perhaps in the election of John XXIII, and certainly in the struggle for control of Vatican II, and the bishops who reflected a different worldview than the one held by Cardinals Otavianni  and Cicognani. Again, recall the impact of the appointments of John Paul II during his 27 years.

Take a look inside our August 29 edition. Watch now.
screen-shot_FB-video-promo-8-29.jpg

Mass attendance will only count for Pope Francis to the extent the people in attendance go forth to live the Gospel, and among other things that means helping to promote a policy of subsidiarity directed to problems only at the local level, or to a subsidiarity that builds on the local level efforts and moves beyond that to a program of solidarity designed to tackle social problems that cannot be resolved at local levels in the way our society is currently structured.

In short, if you are a US citizen and take Francis seriously, you will have to take a close look at the policies and programs of the two political parties and decide which one more closely meets the message Francis is putting forth.  It is no surprise to me why my Jewish and Protestant friends like Francis.

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

Feature-flag_GSR_start-reading.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

August 29-September 11, 2014

08-29-2014.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.