Power of the new pope: Lapsed Catholics feel drawn to give Francis a try

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Newly minted Pope Francis is already making a mark. At least some of the church’s lapsed Catholics, disenfranchised by years of scandals and rigid teachings, say they’re now giving the religion a second look and returning to the fold.

The new pope is like a breath of fresh air, said Dallas teacher and divorcee Marilyn Rosa, who described herself in an NBC report as a lapsed Catholic who gave up celebrating Mass three years ago.

“The day the pope got elected, I turned on the TV and when I learned he was Latin, I went crazy at home,” she said in the report. “When they started talking about how he lived by himself and didn’t move into the archbishop’s residence, how he took the bus to work, I said, ‘I know God is talking to me. This is the man we needed.’ “

The Pew Forum on Religion reported in 2009 that an estimated 1-in-10 adults in the United States claimed to have been raised Catholic, but had broken ties with the church. The new pope could just change that statistic, analysts say. St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church Center’s Father Peter Mussett said many in his Colorado flock are returning.

“I had five people in a week who were saying, ‘Pope Francis has inspired me to return to my faith.’ It’s pretty remarkable,” he said in the NBC report.

And from Ms. Rosa, to NBC: “He’s not letting himself be controlled by the rest of the church. He’s his own man.”

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