A Pew study has found no evidence for a "Pope Francis Effect" in the United States. That would be the idea that people are going to church more often since an apparently kinder, gentler leader took over the famed pointy hat in Rome. The world's second most-famous Argentine, Francis has used his eight months in office to push for a more outward-looking church, inviting Muslims to mass (Muslim women, specifically), making unusually open statements on gay marriage (he's cool-ish with it) and conducting himself in the manner of a decent, regular guy, at least as far as holy oracles go.
Pew found that the number of Americans who identify as Catholics (23 percent) has been virtually unchanged under Francis, and that church attendance hasn't budged either.
The theory was that Francis' likability had brought some people back to a church lately known less for dispensing comfort or charity than for skillfully obstructing a raft of pretty damning, as it were, pederasty investigations. Pew found, however, that the number of Americans who identify as Catholics (23 percent) has been virtually unchanged under Francis, and that church attendance hasn't budged either. Two out of five Americans who identify themselves as practicing Catholics go to mass once a week, or at least they say they do. We have no numbers on how many of those counted are actually 14-year-olds who later begged out to go to the bathroom and are now smoking in the parking lot.
Ten percent of Americans describe themselves as former Catholics, according to Pew. That hasn't changed either under Francis. A summary of the findings is here. Though the change in leadership style hasn't had any effects, nor did Pew find the prior, more hard-line leadership in the Vatican was much missed; the study does not report U.S. Catholics expressing dislike for Francis, but just not changing their own behavior as much as the church leadership has changed its own.