For some time now we have been hearing about the so-called “Francis Effect” whereby the Catholic Church is allegedly on the verge of experiencing that oh-so-elusive “New Springtime.”
In an article written last September, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore put it this way:
“There’s no doubt about it. Pope Francis has captured the attention of the church and the world … by a simplicity and humility that has earned him the nickname, ‘the world’s parish priest,’ but also by taking the church back to the basics.”
He went on to say that the Holy Father’s “unique approach to his ministry has signaled a new tone and given fresh hope to many, including those active in the faith and those no longer participating in the life of the church.”
Francis fever has even taken hold of some in the Roman Curia as well.
In a New Year’s Eve interview with Vatican Radio, Monsignor John Kennedy, an official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, suggested that Pope Francis “has made a lot of people return to their faith in a new way… there’s a lot more people present at Mass.”
While this may sound perfectly wonderful, it’s really nothing more than the latest manifestation of the post-conciliar delusion wherein prelates wax optimistic even as the Church marches unabated along the path of self- destruction.
According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life:
“Between Francis’ election in March and the end of October  … the percentage of Americans who identify as Catholics has remained the same … and self-reported levels of Mass attendance have remained virtually unchanged since the new pope was elected. Since April of this year, 39 percent of US Catholics report attending Mass at least weekly, similar to the 40 percent attendance figure last year.”
Now, that’s not to say that this pontificate is having no impact on Catholic life at all, mind you; it certainly is, it’s just difficult to measure at this point.
So, what is the real Francis Effect?
Anecdotal, I know, but based on conversations I’ve had with clergy and laity alike, this is my take.
Thanks to Francis, certain leftward leaning clerics are:
- Feeling justified in their failure to condemn immorality
- Feeling encouraged not to bother preaching sound doctrine
- Ratcheting-up the focus on social justice
- Emboldened to speak more supportively of the homosexual agenda
- More determined than ever to kick pastoral authority to parish councils
- Dismissing traditional concerns out of hand with increasing hostility
Among more “conservative” hierarchs, who are not properly considered traditional, some are:
- Growing impatient with the confusion coming from Rome
- Weary of having to defend the pope’s questionable statements
- Ignoring the pope as much as possible
- Finding themselves increasingly challenged by liberal laity who now feel emboldened
- Apprehensive about appearing too authoritarian or doctrinally and liturgically “rigid”
Among left leaning laity, some are:
- Strutting about as though their stock has risen considerably relative to the Benedictine days
- More confident in their power to influence parish life
- Even less inclined to acknowledge the deficiencies of Protestantism and non-Christian religions
- Growing ever more hostile to tradition
As for traditional Catholics, well… you can poke around this blog and discover far more than I can relate in a series of bullet points.
While none of what has been mentioned thus far is to be taken lightly, it pales in comparison to the impact a lengthy Franciscan pontificate would likely have on the life of the Church.
In my estimation, should Francis reign for five years or more, we can expect to see:
- That new wave of traditional seminarians almost entirely replaced with a bumper crop of would-be Peace Corp volunteers and social workers
- A Church mired in bureaucratic disarray with no clear voice of authority
- Novus Ordo Masses devolving back into 1970’s style “liturgical performance art” as choreographed according to the demands of committees
- Even fewer males in our parishes
- Interest in tradition increasing in step with hostility toward it
- Something even more disturbing than the Assisi gatherings
Horrifying though all of this may be, if Monsignor Kennedy is correct, we may have reached a point of no return.
According to him, no matter how long Francis reigns, our new Holy Father is already “the standard by which future Popes are going to be measured.”
It’s time to start counting those Rosaries, folks.
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