The Pope Bump: Is Francis Luring Lapsed Catholics Back to Mass?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 11 2013 5:51 PM

The Pope Bump: Is Francis Luring Lapsed Catholics Back to Mass?

Pope Francis kisses a baby as he arrives for his general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican.

Photo by VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

In politics, the top-of-the-ticket matters. Ask any operative, from either party, and they’ll tell you having a popular presidential candidate’s name headlining the ballot on Election Day helps motivate the party faithful to head to the polls, lifting the fortunes of lesser-known candidates running for lesser-known offices. Apparently, the same trickle down principle holds when it comes to religion.

Citing the “Pope Francis effect” Italy’s Center for the Study of New Religions (CESNUR) reports a significant rise in church attendance since Francis was elected as Pope. Researcher Massimo Introvigne, the head of CESNUR, told the Guardian that in a survey of 250 Catholic priests, 51% of them reported a significant rise in churchgoing. Introvigne said that there was evidence of a surge in attendance immediately after the new Pope was announced. To see if enthusiasm had waned, he conducted a more extensive poll to see if those numbers had returned to previous levels. "It might have been attributable to the novelty of having a new pope and the emotions stirred by the resignation of pope Benedict. But after six months I got more or less the same result," he told the Guardian.


Pope Francis’ sometimes freewheeling and unconventional papal style has made him popular figure, but has also rubbed some the church’s conservatives the wrong way. But, for the casual catholic, Francis has been a motivator to get back to mass. Italy's most senior clerics, the Guardian reports, said that the biggest impact that Francis has made is on “long-lapsed Catholics.” Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, the archbishop of Florence, told the Guardian: "So many are returning to the sacraments, in some cases after decades."

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.



Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your children is perfectly legal. 

Ken Burns on Why Teddy Roosevelt Would Never Get Elected in 2014

Cops Briefly Detain Django Unchained Actress Because They Thought She Was a Prostitute

Minimalist Cocktail Posters Make Mixing Drinks a Cinch

How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest of jewels.


Rainbow Parties and Sex Bracelets

Where teenage sex rumors come from—and why they’re bad for parents and kids.


You Had to Be There

What we can learn from things that used to be funny.

Legendary Critic Greil Marcus Measures and Maps Rock History Through 10 Unlikely Songs

Catfish Creator Nev Schulman’s Book Is Just Like Him: Self-Deluded and Completely Infectious

Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Sept. 14 2014 2:37 PM When Abuse Is Not Abuse Don’t expect Adrian Peterson to go to prison. In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 13 2014 8:38 AM “You’re More Than Just a Number” Goucher College goes transcript-free in admissions.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
Brow Beat
Sept. 14 2014 7:10 PM Watch Michael Winslow Perform Every Part of “Whole Lotta Love” With Just His Voice
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?