Over at FiveThirtyEight, I’ve rounded up Catholic nerds and data nerds to try to answer the question “How can you tell if Francis (or any other Pope) is a success?” I actually made a bet with a friend on the success of Francis’s papacy not long after he became pontiff (and the bet comes due in 2016); it was pretty hard to find something to measure. I promise you that what we went with wasn’t this, though:
PEG: I think before you even think of metrics, you have to think about what criteria constitute success. In the church’s self-understanding, it’s a machine for producing saints. Well, the results are only going to be in a few centuries from now.
Leah: I thought of doing a generational bet, which my friend and I would pass down to our children, to check on canonization rates of people alive during Francis’s papacy, but (a) it seemed to be vulnerable to changing attitudes about canonizations (witness Pope John Paul II canonizing a record-setting 480-plus saints) and (b) no fun for us.
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, editor in chief of Aleteia and columnist at The Week; Fr. Sam Sawyer, SJ, an associate editor at America; Mark Oppenheimer, who writes the Beliefs column for The New York Times; and Carl Bialik, the lead writer for news at FiveThirtyEight joined me to figure out what we’d like to measure and what we can measure when we’re assessing a pope.
Head on over to FiveThirtyEight to see what their ideas were, share your own, and to find out what were the actual terms of the bet my friend and I made.