Despite widely reported anecdotes of lapsed Catholics returning to the pews, growth in Mass attendance and renewed interest in the Roman Catholic Church during Pope Francis' first year, a new report has found the "Pope Francis effect" may not exist after all.
In a survey released Thursday about Americans' views of the pope nearly a year into the papacy, the Pew Research Center found no change in the share of American adults who call themselves Catholic, or in self-reported rates of Mass attendance, when compared to pre-Francis numbers. Pew also reported no increase in the percentage of Catholics volunteering at their churches or going to confession.
While Catholics and non-Catholics alike gave Francis high ratings in the poll, and Pew found a "widespread perception that he is a change for the better," it said it was "less clear whether there has been a so-called 'Francis effect,' a discernible change in the way American Catholics approach their faith."
Today, 22 percent of Americans identify as Catholic, which is the same percentage as in the year before Francis' election. Forty percent of those Catholics said they attend Mass weekly, which is also unchanged since the months before Francis became pope.
About 13 percent of Catholics say they have been volunteering more in their church over the last year, but 23 percent said they have been volunteering less and 59 percent say their volunteering has not changed. Just 5 percent of Catholics have been going to confession more often over the past year, while 22 percent have been attending less often and 65 percent say they haven't changed how often they go to confession.
A quarter of Catholics said they have been more excited about their faith over the last year, and 40 percent said they have been praying more during that time.
Pew said it could not conclusively link those increases to Francis because the questions on excitement over faith and frequency of prayer were not explicitly tied to the new pope and came elsewhere in its survey.
Source: Huffington Post Religion