No Francis effect? The people's Pope fails to bring more Catholics into churches

Research suggests the 'Francis effect' is only evident among Catholics who were already highly committed to their faith

He is widely known as the ‘people’s Pope’ and was even named the Time person of the year, but evidence to support the so-called Francis effect is somewhat lacking, it would appear.

A survey has suggested there has been no significant rise in how often Catholics attend church or in the number of those attending confession across America since Pope Francis took over the reins from Pope Benedict XVI.

Nor has there been a measurable increase in the amount of people who say they follow the Catholic faith, according to a poll of both Catholics and non-Catholics.

This comes despite a "widespread perception that he is a change for the better".

While Pope Francis is undoubtedly extremely popular across the globe, even being featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and voted Best Dressed Man of 2013 by Esquire magazine, his rock-star status seems to have done little to bring Catholics in America back into the churches.

Pew’s research found the Pontiff is perceived in a largely positive light, with 68 per cent of people saying he represented "a major change for the better," and only four per cent expressing a negative opinion of him.

In fact, 26 per cent even said they were “more excited” about their religion now, while forty per cent reported praying more often since his election.

 

But this has not translated into numbers. Twenty-two per cent of Americans identified as Catholic - exactly the same percentage as the previous year. Forty per cent said they attend a weekly mass, a figure that also remains unchanged from the previous year.

"There has been no measurable rise in the percentage of Americans who identify as Catholic," the survey said. "Nor has there been a statistically significant change in how often Catholics say they go to Mass."

Meanwhile, only half of Catholics surveyed were impressed with Pope Francis' handling of allegations of sex abuse within the clergy.

Catholics today also appear to hold more progressive views on the religion, with many advocating the use of contraception and the concept of female priests.

The Pope recently announced it was time for the Church to be rid of its “obsession” with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality, but also denounced abortion as "horrific" and a part of "a throwaway culture".

"Regardless of their expectations about what the Church will do, large majorities of Catholics say the Church should allow Catholics to use birth control (77 per cent), allow priests to get married (72 percent) and ordain women as priests (68 per cent)," the survey wrote.

"Half of Catholics say the Church should recognise the marriages of gay and lesbian couples," it added.

The survey concluded: "If there has been a 'Francis effect', it has been most pronounced among Catholics who already were highly committed to the practice of their faith."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss