On Pope Francis: “He’s made Catholicism cool”

From The New York Post: 

On the night of Dec. 4, more than a thousand eager young Catholics braved the Rockefeller Center tree-lighting gridlock to pack into St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

But it wasn’t to take photos or marvel at the neo-Gothic interior (which is under renovation).

It was to hear New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan preside over the monthly Mass that welcomes a younger demographic to the grand house of worship — and it was the most popular event for young people ever hosted by the church.

“This is the largest crowd we’ve ever had,” says Colin Nykaza, 32, director of Young Adult Outreach for the Archdiocese of New York, which is geared toward Catholics in their 20s and 30s. “There’s a new spirit in the church right now. I’m hearing that young adults love Pope Francis. After all,” he adds, “he’s taking selfies with them.”

Since Francis’ election in March, the previously littleknown Argentine cardinal has catapulted to international rock-star status: He has more than 3 million Twitter followers, he just topped Facebook’s trending topics of 2013 list, and yesterday, Time magazine named him Person of the Year (following in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II in 1994 and Pope John XXIII in 1962).

Unlike his aloof predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis lives in the Vatican guesthouse (as opposed to the lavish papal apartment) and drives himself around in a 1984 Renault (instead of being chauffeured). In a September interview with a Jesuit publication, he broke with conservative church positions on a number of issues, including homosexuality. And most recently, he admitted that before he became a priest, he worked as a bouncer while attending college in Buenos Aires.

“He’s made Catholicism cool in 2013,” says Domenick Canale, a 32-year-old Bronx resident who attended the Mass at St. Pat’s.

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