The ‘Francis effect’ bringing people back to the Church – study

It’s long been called the ‘Francis effect’ and now, thanks to a new survey, its positive results are being measured for the first time.

Since his election in March, Pope Francis has been the focus of much attention for his warm and engaging style of leadership, leading to debates as to whether this would translate into increased numbers in the pews.

Now, thanks to a study undertaken by Italy’s Centre for the Study of New Religions, a recent upswing in Mass attendances in that country and Britain has been linked to Pope Francis.

Undertaken by researcher Massimo Introvigne, the study focused on 250 parish priests in Italy and revealed that 51% of that number noted a significant rise in attendees at their churches since the March election of the Argentine Pontiff.

Projected nationally, Introvigne said in releasing his figures, “if only half the parishes and communities in Italy have been touched by the Francis effect, then we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people who are returning”.

The results are even more dramatic in Britain, where a smaller study, involving 22 cathedrals across the country, reveals that 65% of respondents report a marked increase in attendance figures since March.

The specific element of the impact on formerly lapsed Catholic via Pope Francis has now become the new debate, with his humble style, his strong leadership and his ‘cleaning house’ at the Vatican all discussed, by a worldwide media also seemingly in thrall to the Pontiff, another part of the ‘Francis effect’, it seems.