The Francis Effect
The Failure & Confusions of a More Accommodating Faith
Very soon after the election of Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis, there was a good deal of talk of "the Francis effect": the ability of this popular, charismatic figure to reinvigorate the spirit of aggiornamento, which animated the Second Vatican Council and which, implicitly, had been suppressed in the dour papacies of Francis's two immediate predecessors. Writing for the Catholic News Service (March 6, 2015), Cindy Wooden cited in support of this view a number of participants at a conference at Georgetown University, "Renewing the Church in a Secular Age" (March 4–5, 2015).
One participant, Charles Taylor, credited Pope Francis with "living the Gospel and reaching out" and distinguished between "seekers" and "dwellers," clearly favoring the former: "The seekers—baptized Christians or not—continue to question. The dwellers have found a home in a church and may have a tendency to nest there so thoroughly that they seldom reach out to others and only accept those who believe exactly as they do." Professor José Casanova is quoted as sharpening this opposition: "We were concerned by what could be called a self-referential church that had been too concerned about what could be called a 'moral confessionalism' in which being Catholic was defined by certain moral criteria more than criteria of dogma or belief in doctrine."
An Ineffective "Effect"
THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:
R. V. Young is Professor of English Emeritus at North Carolina State University, and a former editor of Modern Age: A Quarterly Review. His Shakespeare & the Idea of Western Civilization is forthcoming in January from Catholic University of America Press. He and his wife are parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Dunedin, Florida. They have five grown children, 15 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He is a contributing editor of Touchstone.
more on Catholic from the online archives
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Purchase Print &
Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!
Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives including pdf downloads for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!
GIVE Print &
Give six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for the reduced rate of $29.95. That's only $2.50 per month!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more from the online archives