Bill Doino, Jr. on the Pope’s Upcoming Visit to America

Bill Doino, Jr. on the Pope’s Upcoming Visit to America August 26, 2015

In which he is, as I am, banking on it being a big success, even as there are likely to be some who will exploit the papal visit, for their own purposes–something to watch for–but he (and I) have confidence Francis will outmaneuver them, and ultimately win the day with the American public.

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  • What success? He’ll be here, leave, and the problems will go on.

    • Andy

      I know that success means that he finds one heart changed, one sinner welcomed back, one heart made lighter. I know low expectations, but the shepherd looks for the lost one. I pray that maybe just maybe he will finally pierce the bubble of American Exceptionalism that Popes since Leo XIII have railed against.

      • I hope so, but most of the work will have to be done here.

        • Andy

          I agree with about where the work must be done, but is that not always the case – to change requires much effort.

        • Andy

          By the way I read you latest book and found it inspiring. Thanks for writing it.

          • Thank you Andy, much appreciated. That is precious to me.

            Please pass the word.


  • capaxdei

    The article ends, “Despite the many potential hazards that accompany Francis’s visit, we have ample reason to hope that his time in our country will be fruitful—not only that he will be well-received, but also that he will have many life-giving and thought-provoking words for the American people.”

    I have no doubt Pope Francis will be well-received, and he’s certainly have many life-giving and thought-provoking words for the American people. But that doesn’t mean the visit will be fruitful. As Pavel suggests, “success” is a question of what happens after the Pope leaves — unless, I suppose, we mean political success for Francis and his papacy, rather than for the Church in the United States.

    • Alma Peregrina

      When Pope Benedict XVI visited Portugal, his visit was a success. Lots of catholics flocked to see him and even the media was puzzled how the pope didn’t fit their preconceived image of an intolerant and stern ultraconservative inquisitor. There were cerimonies, and cultural events, and for 3 days there was a sense of holiness in the atmosphere of my country.

      The week after the pope left, Portugal’s president legalised homosexual “marriage”.

      So yeah… “success”…

  • Sherry Weddell

    Well actually, there is a growing number of studies showing that, in 2014 anyway, there is a real, positive documentable change in Catholic attitudes linked to Pope Francis. Several different major research firms are picking up on it. I did a long FB thing on it last weekend:

    “Return with me to the days of yesteryear: 2014

    1) In February of 2014, Barna research interviewed 1,026 American adults about the impact of Pope Francis. They found 1) that 5% of all adults, 11% of practicing Catholics, and 10% of millennials reported that they had made changes in their spiritual practice because of Pope Francis. They also found that 47% of Catholic millennials reported attending Mass compared to 34% a year before and 42% of Gen X Catholics reported attending Mass compared to 32% a year previously.

    “In an open-response question, the survey asked those who reported changes under Pope Francis’s influence to describe what, specifically, they are doing differently. Among the most common answers were returning to more regular church attendance, more frequent or fervent prayer and stronger belief or trust in God.”

    2) In March of 2014, the Canadian pollster, Agnus Reid, interviewed 1505 Americans as well as Brits, and Canadians about the impact of Pope Francis. The press release read “Americans are most affected by Pope Francis when it comes to their view of the Catholic Church: 44 percent say he’s improved it.” 26% of lapsed and non-practicing American Catholics surveyed were open to rethinking their relationship with and possible return to the Church.

    3) CARA (in a blog post called “Beginnings of A Francis Correction?”) noted that the 2014 General Social Survey found two significant positive findings. 1. The “retention” rate of those raised Catholic who remained Catholic as adult, which had declined steadily since the early 70’s, had NOT declined but actually held steady between 2012 and 2014. 2. When asked how strong their Catholic affiliation was, there was a 7% INCREASE in the number of Catholics who answered “strong” and a corresponding 6% decline in the number who replied “not very strong”.

    4) Now we have learned that the number of adults baptized into the Church in 2014 – the majority at Easter – rose 12% in 2014 over 2013. (In fact, the 2014 figure is higher than the 2010 baptismal numbers.) We don’t have specifics about their ages or other details but in the past, the majority of those entering through RCIA have been young adults. It is possible that 2014 is an exception but that would represent a distinct change.

    Sooooo in 2014, we have reports of 1) young self-identified Catholics returning to Mass in significant numbers, 2) significant numbers of lapsed Catholics saying they are thinking about the possibility of returning to the Church, 3) the Catholic identity of some strengthened after decades of steady decline, *AND* 4) adult baptisms rising significantly after 8 years of dramatic decline.

    How do we put this positive pattern together with the negative findings of latest Pew US Religious Landscape Survey which was published in May 2015 but whose research was ALSO conducted in 2014 (June 4 – September 30)?

    Pew reported that 50% of Catholic millennials had dropped their Catholic identity and become “Nones” and that only 12 million millennials consider themselves to be Catholics. But this Pew study focused on demographics. They did not ask about religious practice or Mass attendance.

    In my own calculations, when figuring out what percentage of the 50% who were left actually attended Mass regularly, I used the best figure I had as a rough estimate: a somewhat dated (2007) CARA figure that 17% of millennials attend Mass on a weekly basis.

    But WHAT IF the percentage of millennial Catholics attending Mass – at least in 2014 – had actually risen significantly as Barna reported while the number of unbaptized adults entering the Church rose 12%?

    What if the tide is actually rising in unexpected ways? What if, while large numbers continue to drop the name “Catholic” a smaller but growing number of American adults – especially young adults – are moving in the opposite direction? Partly drawn by the personality, words, and actions of Pope Francis and hopefully welcomed and assisted by the evangelical awareness of individual Catholics and Catholic parishes and ministries that has been growing over the past 3 years?

    This could mean that the Pope’s visit next month is a HUGE evangelical moment for us. Imagine the number who could be tip toeing back, those who might consider becoming Catholic for the first time! We need to be ready!