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Rotate Caeli points us to a very interesting piece from the NY times (below).

Moreover, Rorate says some interesting things itself concerning this piece:


Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the papacy of Pope Francis is his unification of traditional Catholics and conservative Catholics.  What started as an uncivil war in March 2013 -- when traditional Catholic sources such as Rorate (which was intimately familiar with Cardinal Bergoglio's work in Argentina) predicted a massive shift to the left, only to be harshly criticized by many Catholic conservatives who blindly defended Bergoglio as one who would continue the incremental restoration of Pope Benedict XVI -- has grown to a point where both camps are now singing from the same Liber.

...
Fast-forward to 2016.

Today's New York Times (yes, that is correct) provides an update on the Francis Effect by an editor of First Things (yes, that is correct).  Entitled "Has Pope Francis Failed?," the op-ed by Matthew Schmitz in today's print edition, also online, is worth a read.


Has Pope Francis Failed?
By MATTHEW SCHMITZSEPT. 28, 2016


When Pope Francis ascended to the chair of St. Peter in March 2013, the world looked on in wonder. Here at last was a pope in line with the times, a man who preferred spontaneous gestures to ritual forms. Francis paid his own hotel bill and eschewed the red shoes. Rather than move into the grand papal apartments, he settled in the cozy guesthouse for visitors to the Vatican. He also set a new nondogmatic tone with statements like “Who am I to judge?”

Observers predicted that the new pope’s warmth, humility and charisma would prompt a “Francis effect” — bringing disaffected Catholics back to a church that would no longer seem so forbidding and cold. Three years into his papacy, the predictions continue. Last winter, Austen Ivereigh, the author of an excellent biography of Pope Francis, wrote that the pope’s softer stance on communion for the divorced and remarried “could trigger a return to parishes on a large scale.” In its early days, Francis’ Jesuit order labored to bring Protestants back into the fold of the church. Could Francis do the same for Catholics tired of headlines about child abuse and culture wars?

In a certain sense, things have changed. Perceptions of the papacy, or at least of the pope, have improved. Francis is far more popular than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Sixty-three percent of American Catholics approve of him, while only 43 percent approved of Benedict at the height of his popularity, according to a 2015 New York Times and CBS News poll. Francis has also placed a great emphasis on reaching out to disaffected Catholics.

But are Catholics actually coming back? In the United States, at least, it hasn’t happened. New survey findings from Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate suggest that there has been no Francis effect — at least, no positive one. In 2008, 23 percent of American Catholics attended Mass each week. Eight years later, weekly Mass attendance has held steady or marginally declined, at 22 percent.

Of course, the United States is only one part of a global church. But the researchers at Georgetown found that certain types of religious observance are weaker now among young Catholics than they were under Benedict. In 2008, 50 percent of millennials reported receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday, and 46 percent said they made some sacrifice beyond abstaining from meat on Fridays. This year, only 41 percent reported receiving ashes and only 36 percent said they made an extra sacrifice, according to CARA. In spite of Francis’ personal popularity, young people seem to be drifting away from the faith.

Why hasn’t the pope’s popularity reinvigorated the church? Perhaps it is too soon to judge. We probably won’t have a full measure of any Francis effect until the church is run by bishops appointed by Francis and priests who adopt his pastoral approach. This will take years or decades.

Yet something more fundamental may stand in the way of a Francis effect. Francis is a Jesuit, and like many members of Catholic religious orders, he tends to view the institutional church, with its parishes and dioceses and settled ways, as an obstacle to reform. He describes parish priests as “little monsters” who “throw stones” at poor sinners. He has given curial officials a diagnosis of “spiritual Alzheimer’s.” He scolds pro-life activists for their “obsession” with abortion. He has said that Catholics who place an emphasis on attending Mass, frequenting confession, and saying traditional prayers are “Pelagians” — people who believe, heretically, that they can be saved by their own works.

Such denunciations demoralize faithful Catholics without giving the disaffected any reason to return. Why join a church whose priests are little monsters and whose members like to throw stones? When the pope himself stresses internal spiritual states over ritual observance, there is little reason to line up for confession or wake up for Mass.


Even Francis’ most ardent fans worry that his agenda is overdue. When he was elected, Francis promised a cleanup of the Vatican’s corrupt finances. Three years on, he has started to retreat in the face of opposition, giving up an outside audit and taking powers away from his handpicked point man. Francis has also shied away from big changes on doctrinal matters. Instead of explicitly endorsing communion for the divorced and remarried couples, he has quietly urged them on with a wink and a nod.

Francis has built his popularity at the expense of the church he leads. Those who wish to see a stronger church may have to wait for a different kind of pope. Instead of trying to soften the church’s teaching, such a man would need to speak of the way hard disciplines can lead to freedom. Confronting a hostile age with the strange claims of Catholic faith may not be popular, but over time it may prove more effective. Even Christ was met with the jeers of the crowd.

"Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the papacy of Pope Francis is his unification of traditional Catholics and conservative Catholics. "

At one point in time, this was one and the same thing.

I'm astonished that we have a Pope who thinks that pro-life activists are "obsessed" with abortion, that proselytism is "solemn nonsense," who calls priests "animals."

                                            Francis continues to alienate Catholics who are faithful to traditional church teaching, while those he reaches out to the most, often praise him, but for the most part, are not returning.
(09-30-2016, 07:59 AM)Roger Buck Wrote: [ -> ]Of course, the United States is only one part of a global church. But the researchers at Georgetown found that certain types of religious observance are weaker now among young Catholics than they were under Benedict. In 2008, 50 percent of millennials reported receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday, and 46 percent said they made some sacrifice beyond abstaining from meat on Fridays. This year, only 41 percent reported receiving ashes and only 36 percent said they made an extra sacrifice, according to CARA. In spite of Francis’ personal popularity, young people seem to be drifting away from the faith.

Our archdiocese (Archdiocese of Winnipeg) recently had it's 100th anniversary. In response, our Archbishop has declared the opening of a Synod, it's purpose from what I understand to set the tone and direction for the future of our archdiocese.

For this Synod process, there are listening sessions. Basically, you show up at the appointed time and place, and you're given a worksheet with specific questions to help organize and express your thoughts on the topics they want input on. Then, you get an opportunity to come up to a microphone and address the archbishop directly. His role is to simply listen, not respond or provide feedback. The entire evening is recorded by a secretary, and the sheets are turned in for further examination (there is also an online feedback form if you can't attend a listening session).

I attended one of the listening sessions. One thing that really struck me was the generational divide. I mean, we talk about it here on Fisheaters, but it's something else to experience it in all it's amplified glory in front on a microphone. One other woman and I were  oldest of the "young" set, at 39-40 years old (with young children). A few other young people were there too, mostly millenials, some with kids some without. 

Common themes came up from all participants - the need for better catechesis was voiced by every group although oddly one woman said we needed better catechesis but "not so much emphasis on doctrine, which seemed to be somewhat oxymoronish to me - but a reoccurring theme especially came up among the youth. They are craving Tradition. They are desiring orthodoxy. They want something authentic. One young man came up who talked about his conversion to the Church from Protestanism (Pentecostalism I later found out) just the year before, and how it was his convictions about the evils of contraception and his pro-life beliefs that lead him there along with his family, and that if the Church had waivered on it's position on those he wouldn't be Catholic. Another young man who works with teens preparing for Confirmation talked about how the kids were desiring the know the meat of their faith. Another person talked about how they strayed from the Church, but found their way back because of the call of Tradition.

The "Francis Effect" isn't going to bring people back, period. Why? Because the people who even bother with the Church are the people who want to take it seriously, and they want what makes the Church unique. They want to ritual and the culture. They want the beauty and the grace. We want it not only for ourselves, but for our children. The older generation that was there - whose children would be my age and who have grandchildren - spoke mournfully of how many of their children left, never to return. Many of them recognized that something needs to change if we want to keep the current generation, but they don't know what. That generation came up to the microphone and told them what we need to stay - a return to Tradition.
(10-01-2016, 02:37 PM)PrairieMom Wrote: [ -> ]The "Francis Effect" isn't going to bring people back, period. Why? Because the people who even bother with the Church are the people who want to take it seriously, and they want what makes the Church unique. They want to ritual and the culture. They want the beauty and the grace.

To quote the great Arthur Fonzarelli, "Exactamundo!" The people who think Pope Francis is a great Pope are the "I'm not religious, really, but I do consider myself a spiritual person" types. They reject the dogmas of the Faith and are, therefore, heretics. To allow their thoughts and desires influence the liturgy is simply ridiculous. Actually, it's ridiculous to let anyone's mere thoughts and desires to influence how we do things. What we're supposed to be doing has been handed down; we've only to receive it, treasure it, and pass it on to the next generation.

(10-01-2016, 02:37 PM)PrairieMom Wrote: [ -> ]We want it not only for ourselves, but for our children. The older generation that was there - whose children would be my age and who have grandchildren - spoke mournfully of how many of their children left, never to return. Many of them recognized that something needs to change if we want to keep the current generation, but they don't know what. That generation came up to the microphone and told them what we need to stay - a return to Tradition.

It's a really sad but an "I coulda told you so" kind of thing when the Boomer types lament how their kids have left the Church. According to their liberals' premises, why stick around?  Pentecostalism is as good as Buddhism is as good as Wicca is as good as a watered-down Catholicism that's had its bones picked clean. The Novus Ordo "thing" offers a banal, boring "service" that teaches nothing, inspires no one, is stripped of all signs, symbolism, Mystery, and beauty, and the accompanying homilies are typically as vapid as Hallmark cards. It's overcooked spaghetti, so why not head on over to Bob's Church o' Jaysus where at least people are having some fun? I mean, if a N.O. priest is going to go Prot, then go freakin' Prot,  start planning the Broadway-style shows, and stop with that tired-ass piano music backing up some broad singing from the pulpit. That stuff cuts it with no one who's not suffering from dementia.

We need the al dente Mass, and ALL of the sacramental rites offered in the traditional way. We need amazing catechesis that also arms Catholics against the lies of Protestantism and secularism. We need cultural traditions to be taught in parish bulletins, and for them to be practiced together on the parish level. We need to put the priests back in charge and send the women who run the show now off to do something useful. We need to focus HARD on the conversion of the heart and the acts of mercy, getting people -- especially younger people -- involved. We need to encourage our young people to use all the various forms of art to counterbalance what the mainstream media put out and to teach and inspire others. We need to start using once again the language of the Church Militant and feed the souls of our young boys and men who are tired of the effeminate (not "feminine"!) weirdness.

I really hope that Bishop paid attention to what those young people were saying, Prairie Mom!
Preach on, sister!

(10-01-2016, 03:30 PM)Vox Clamantis Wrote: [ -> ]I really hope that Bishop paid attention to what those young people were saying, Prairie Mom!

I don't know. He's a hard one to read, and I watched him very carefully while people were speaking. He was certainly interested, but I think it pained him to hear some of what we said. A couple of us (myself included) had some harsh words. Spoken in love, of course, but sometimes there really isn't a nice way to say it. How do you say, without criticism, that, "you, as a member of the Church hierarchy, are no giving us what we need. You as a Church are failing us and this is why"?

It was really interesting, though, that a priest came up and spoke. He would be older than me, although not awfully so, probably less than 10 years older. But it broke a heard a little when he came up and talked about how John XXIII said that ""We are not on earth to guard a museum, but to tend a blooming garden full of life." I hate that quote so much because it presents a false dichotomy, by suggesting that because things are from the past and are valuable (so valuable, in fact, that we put them in a museum!) that they cannot somehow be alive.

If you extend the garden metaphor, it's like a seed from a rare and but beautiful heritage tomato, . It might be a very old and rare variety of tomato, and it may not be fashionable, it's not all pretty and pert and globular like you find in the supermarket. It might be a relic from an earlier era. But by golly, what happens if you plant it? It grows! And then you pick it, and you taste it.... sublime! There is no comparaison! And guess what? If you plant the seeds, it keeps growing.

We may be tenders of the garden, but one does not nurture a garden by ripping out all the plants that have thrived for centuries. On the contrary, one nurtures the garden by carefully sculpting what you have generation to generation. By preserving the seeds, so you can plant what grows best again, which produces the richest, fullest flavours. By taking your children and your grandchildren into the garden, working side-by-side with them so they can learn, instead of just sending them to the supermarket to buy the tomatoes that are on sale.

That is how you tend a blooming garden full of life.
(10-01-2016, 03:30 PM)Vox Clamantis Wrote: [ -> ]It's a really sad but an "I coulda told you so" kind of thing when the Boomer types lament how their kids have left the Church.

I also need to point out that for a lot of the Boomers that came up to speak, probably at least 1/2 of them lamented that their kids have left, but at the same time acknowledged that maybe they didn't give their kids what they wanted to give them. There *was* this sort of undercurrent of the desires of the parents being different than the reality of the Church. I think that's important to acknowledge, and I know when I spoke I did tell the bishop that part of the generational gap now is that we want to teach our kids, but we ourselves lack in knowledge, and at the parish level we lack in culture. We go into it wanting to learn, but we're almost blind because there is no guidance in the parish itself.

We blame the Boomers, but really the fault falls on the generation before in many ways. Most of the Boomers weren't catechized properly, and therefore didn't pass it on to their children. But we can't really fault the Boomers for that because they were only children. They themselves are a victim.
(10-01-2016, 06:35 PM)PrairieMom Wrote: [ -> ]It was really interesting, though, that a priest came up and spoke. He would be older than me, although not awfully so, probably less than 10 years older. But it broke a heard a little when he came up and talked about how John XXIII said that ""We are not on earth to guard a museum, but to tend a blooming garden full of life." I hate that quote so much because it presents a false dichotomy, by suggesting that because things are from the past and are valuable (so valuable, in fact, that we put them in a museum!) that they cannot somehow be alive.

If you extend the garden metaphor, it's like a seed from a rare and but beautiful heritage tomato, . It might be a very old and rare variety of tomato, and it may not be fashionable, it's not all pretty and pert and globular like you find in the supermarket. It might be a relic from an earlier era. But by golly, what happens if you plant it? It grows! And then you pick it, and you taste it.... sublime! There is no comparaison! And guess what? If you plant the seeds, it keeps growing.

We may be tenders of the garden, but one does not nurture a garden by ripping out all the plants that have thrived for centuries. On the contrary, one nurtures the garden by carefully sculpting what you have generation to generation. By preserving the seeds, so you can plant what grows best again, which produces the richest, fullest flavours. By taking your children and your grandchildren into the garden, working side-by-side with them so they can learn, instead of just sending them to the supermarket to buy the tomatoes that are on sale.

That is how you tend a blooming garden full of life.

Nice metaphor! OH, how I hope you had the presence of mind to say something like that to the priest at the time! "We love museums, Father -- and ripe, juicy, living HEIRLOOM tomatoes, not mealy hot-house ones!" Ha, if you're like me, you'd have only thought of it later and then wanted to pull a George Costanza on him, going on about the "jerk store" calling LOL
(10-01-2016, 06:47 PM)PrairieMom Wrote: [ -> ]I also need to point out that for a lot of the Boomers that came up to speak, probably at least 1/2 of them lamented that their kids have left, but at the same time acknowledged that maybe they didn't give their kids what they wanted to give them. There *was* this sort of undercurrent of the desires of the parents being different than the reality of the Church. I think that's important to acknowledge, and I know when I spoke I did tell the bishop that part of the generational gap now is that we want to teach our kids, but we ourselves lack in knowledge, and at the parish level we lack in culture. We go into it wanting to learn, but we're almost blind because there is no guidance in the parish itself.

We blame the Boomers, but really the fault falls on the generation before in many ways. Most of the Boomers weren't catechized properly, and therefore didn't pass it on to their children. But we can't really fault the Boomers for that because they were only children. They themselves are a victim.

Yeah, you're probably right that about it not being most of the Boomers who were a problem. As you intimate, most of them likely had as little power over things as we trads do now. I mean, Pope Pius X was talking about this sort of thing, warning about it, a looooong time ago...

On the other hand, there was that sub-set of crazy Boomers who made ready with the felt and the guitars. But they prolly were in the minority...
(10-01-2016, 02:37 PM)PrairieMom Wrote: [ -> ]Our archdiocese (Archdiocese of Winnipeg) recently had it's 100th anniversary. In response, our Archbishop has declared the opening of a Synod, it's purpose from what I understand to set the tone and direction for the future of our archdiocese.

If I was still living in Winnipeg I would have told the Archbishop that the local SSPX chapel has an entire church choir of under-16 year old kids (at least they did ~2 years ago), and if they wanted an exercise in "keeping your kids Catholic" and "attracting young people" they could do a lot worse than that!

I wonder what kind of a reaction that would have received. LOL
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