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

The Slatest
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.


Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.