Catholic Press Association 11 01 2016 E Edition Page 1

THE CATHOLIC JOURNALIST CATHOLIC PRESS ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA VOLUME 68 NUMBER 9 NOVEMBER 2016 By Mark M. Gray Reprinted from "1964," the blog of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University [Trigger Warning: This post contains some necessary satire. All data are real] First Things Literary Editor Matthew Schmitz posed the question, " Has Pope Francis Failed? " In The New York Times last week. The key sentence for CARA in this piece was, "New survey findings from Georgetown's Center for the Applied Research for the Apostolate [not our name] suggest that there has been no Francis effect - at least, no positive one." Schmitz notes that the "perceptions of the papacy" have changed for the better but asks, "Why hasn't the pope's popularity reinvigorated the church?" CARA primarily studies Catholics and the Catholic Church in the United States. The data [Chart 1] "suggest" that any survey data about Catholics in the United States from CARA could not possibly be appropriately used to judge whether Pope Francis has failed. The data reviewed in Schmitz's piece measure approval of the pope (positive), frequency of Mass attendance (essentially unchanged), and Millennial's participation in Lent (declined, while generally remaining stable among the total population) in the United States. I do not have the space in a blog post to list and detail all the other numerous possible indicators that could be used to measure a pope's success or failure in the United States (and elsewhere). You can find a few in the original CARA blog post Schmitz read (which never mentions Pope Francis). Anyone can grab three stats and write an opinion piece (. . . and apparently get it published in The New York Times . Who knew?). For example, I could note that in 2005, when Pope Benedict started leading the Church there were 431 diocesan ordination in the United States (. . . again forget that the rest of the world exists). In 2015, with Pope Francis leading the Church there were 548. Electing Pope Francis has clearly made the Catholic Church more successful at ordaining priests in this single country (by 27%). Pope Francis is 79. I'm not sure how long his papacy may last. However, if he can remain in office to mid-century and continue the trend shown in the data [on Chart 2 on page 6] then CARA research "suggests," that there will be a whopping 1,577 diocesan ordinations in the United States in 2050. Francis Effect confirmed! No? You need more data? If essentially beginning to reverse the American decline in priests is not impressive enough look at the figure [in Chart 3 on page 6]. Since Pope Francis began to lead the Catholic Church fewer Catholics in the United States have been dying. Pope Francis did the best in 2014 with only 391,131 deaths compared to 403,886 in 2012 (a Continued on page 6 CNS Did CARA data reveal Pope Francis FAILED ? Chart 1

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