Pope Francis has been incredibly popular, especially for considering the radical shift he represets. Despite high favorability ratings, early research from the Pew Research Center suggests there isn’t strong evidence for a “Francis effect” that is leading to changes in how American Catholics approach their religion. More specifically:
There has been no measurable rise in the percentage of Americans who identify as Catholic. Nor has there been a statistically significant change in how often Catholics say they go to Mass. And the survey finds no evidence that large numbers of Catholics are going to confession or volunteering in their churches or communities more often.
Despite this report, I remain hopeful. The report does suggest that there are positive signs on the anecdotal level. The larger the institution, the slower the change – especially religious institutions. Among the Catholics and Protestants I know, most believe Pope Francis is and will have a positive (and measurable) impact on Catholicism and Christianity.
What is your overall impression of Pope Francis’ ministry? Has it had any direct impact on how you practice your faith?