Pope Francis does for church attendance what Colin Kaepernick did for NFL attendance
The comparison is obvious. A new Gallup poll finds a precipitous drop in Catholic Church attendance coinciding with the years of Pope Francis's papacy. Francis is known for shoving secular statist left-wing ideology into church teachings, through both his words and his deeds, just as Colin Kaepernick did with the National Football League. That's clear in what Pope Francis says and in whom he invites into the Vatican to provide advice. And surprise, surprise, the result is the same: the fans and the flock stay away.
Catholic church attendance in the United States fell by six percent between the pontificates of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, the sharpest drop in decades, a new Gallup poll has revealed.
An average of 39 percent of U.S. Catholics attended church weekly during the heart of the Francis papacy, from 2014 to 2017, Gallup found in a survey released April 9, which represents a significant drop from the 45 percent of Catholics who attended weekly Mass from 2005 to 2008, in the early years of the Benedict pontificate.
The empty pews have the curious redolence of Colin Kaepernick, who created empty seats in America's football stadiums by introducing left-wing protest into National Football League opening ceremonies. It was the specter of a $20-million football player telling the audience paying that salary that they and their country were just too racist for him. No surprise: The audience drifted away, and NFL profits plummeted.
Such an audience wanted entertainment, not hectoring. And it's likely the same for the Catholic Church. It's been a while since Francis has attempted to stick to pure religion and spirituality in his statements and deeds; it's always something with a polarizing political message from him. Well, audiences there want religion, and a religion with demands, not a mere call to vote left and leave it at that. They want actual religion just as football fans want actual football.
What a legacy.
Is it Francis's fault? I think so. Hollowed out Protestant churches report steady attendance; only the Catholic attendance has fallen. I can see it in the Rite of Christian Initiation classes I have served as a sponsor in. Pre-Francis, the participation of new converts was high. After Francis, there was a precipitous drop, with new converts tending to be leftist in orientation. If the only people the Church is speaking to are lefties and lefties don't like Church in general, well, then the numbers will be small. It's also worth noting that the majority of Catholics, like the majority of other Christian faiths, voted in their majority for President Trump.
So much for the Francis Effect, which the media gushingly pushed, claiming that Pope Francis, with his left-wingery, would revitalize the Church.
It's notable because it's not as if the problem hasn't occurred before, and in our lifetimes. When Vatican II trashed the traditional liturgy, the parishioners stayed away, and the churches got emptier than ever as the Church attempted to get "with it" as the secular lefties, with zero interest in the Church otherwise, called for the Church to be more like them.
It didn't work.
As a stalwart Catholic, I can't say I completely understand the exodus from the pews, given that one's obligations as a Catholic to attend Mass stand no matter how little we like the pope. All the same, I have been tempted to quit going to Mass at times, given my disheartened state at what is going on in the Church. Because if what the Church teaches is to put all power the state and hate the rule of law, to call for more social welfare, well, why not just worship the state, then? There are times when I find the Church unrecognizable. I comfort myself with the thought that we have had far more horrible popes in the past – Borgia types, ambitious schemers, killers, and assorted perverts, and somehow it didn't matter. That said, Francis is a frustrating guy, he can't shake his left-wingery and Argentine-grade education on economics, and he seems to get worse with time as he hangs out with petty radical self-important intellectuals such as African cardinals schooled in fourth-world confusion and resentment, as V.S. Naipaul put it. Such a boob, hanging out with those mediocrities and imagining he's being humble.
What one can hope from this, is that, if nothing else, they'll notice the pocketbook and adjust their message accordingly – not because it's about anything they feel, but maybe because there's a little bit of lingering Borgia left in the Holy See, and they can read a balance sheet.
The Catholic Church in the U.S. is the biggest fundraiser for the Vatican by far, and the falling attendance has got to be hurting fundraising. Not that Francis would notice, of course. Lefties seem to think money grows on trees. But it must be real, and the falling cash would mean falling influence. How sad we have to hope that pocketbook issues motivate them since they can't shake their leftism.
Deputy editor Drew Belsky adds: Catholics are well advised to remember that the "obligation" to attend Mass is on pain of mortal sin – meaning, to put it bluntly, that to skip is to send yourself to eternal burning barring a good confession.
As for people feeling discouraged from going to Mass, if the "eternal burning" part doesn't convince, try the centuries-old Latin Mass – the one innumerable canonized saints assisted at before the liturgical chaos of 1968. It's difficult to insert politics into a liturgy said in a language no one speaks day-to-day, with the priest facing God rather than the people, and the priests doing the traditional Mass tend to understand not to politicize the sacrifice anyway. It also happens to be beautiful.
Image by Donkey Hotey / Flickr