MANILA, March 23, 2014 — Aside from heftier donations to the Church and more people seeking confession, an increase in vocations may also be attributed to the so-called ‘Pope Francis Effect’, says a Vatican expert.
“Jesuits around the world — there has recently been a report from the Jesuits in the U.S — are reporting that they have never seen a year like the last 12 months in terms of inquiries about priestly vocations. They are reporting a surge in vocations,” CNN Vatican correspondent John Allen said during a recent press conference at the Divine Word Seminary.
According to Allen, who has been covering the Vatican for the past twenty years, this phenomenon is probably because people are “connecting the dots”.
“They like what they see in Francis, they know that he’s a Jesuit, so they’re reaching out to the Society of Jesus to sort of see if this might work for them as well,” he explained.
Though it is hard to conclude at present whether the spike in inquiries about the religious life for one male religious congregation would translate to an over-all increase in vocations over the long-term, Allen foresees the ‘Francis Effect’ doing nothing but good in this area.
“My guess is that over time, I think you probably will see some slight upticks in vocations, in mass attendance, I think, particulary in demand for the sacrament of confession because that’s such an emphasis of this pope,” Allen, who is now the associate editor of The Boston Globe, added.
Despite glowing reports about the purported ripples of the ‘Francis Effect’, Allen was quick to qualify that matters like vocations, mass attendance and even the number of people going to the Sacrament of reconciliation should not be the criteria for judging Pope Francis’ papacy.
“These are long term historical trajectories that depend on a lot of things that are not under a pope’s control.
i wouldn’t want to make the measure of Francis’ success or failure quantifiable things like that,” he said.
Allen, who also writes the regular column, “All Things Catholic”, emphasized instead the centrality of Pope Francis’ vision of the Catholic Church becoming “the field hospital in which the wounds of humanity are cured” and how this should be the defining character of his papacy.
“If we pulls that off, his papacy would have been a success regardless of what happens to vocations and mass attendance,” he concluded.
Allen recently gave a talk on the impact of Pope Francis on media, and popular culture at the Divine Word Seminary last March 12. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz)