Has the Pope failed? Yes, suggests Matthew Schmitz in the New York Times. He thinks Francis’s soft approach has not worked, citing research from Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), which found that in 2008, 50 per cent of millennials reported receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday compared with 41 per cent in 2016. But Leah Libresco was not convinced at America magazine, where she responded to Schmitz: “Take a second and make a guess about how much participation in Lenten rituals has diminished for American Episcopalian or Lutheran millennials over the same period covered by CARA’s research. Ten percentage points? More? Less? I don’t know the answer, but I would be surprised if it is only Catholics that are falling away at these rates.”
Meanwhile, CARA’s own research blog retorted: “Anyone can grab three stats and write an opinion piece.” They pointed out that that there have been more diocesan ordinations in the US under Francis than there were under Benedict. They also sardonically highlighted that Catholics in the US were living longer since Francis was elected and that the baby name Francis was also growing in popularity. “Francis effect confirmed! No?” They concluded: “Pope Francis should not be judged a success or a failure with the assistance of a few pieces of survey data that actually show mixed trends in one country.”
How can the Church appoint good bishops?
It’s time to rethink the way the Church elects bishops, Robert Mickens announced in the National Catholic Reporter. Mickens said it was time to end the “incestuous old boys’ network” controlling episcopal appointments with more lay participation in bishops’ appointments rather than opting for a conclave-like democratic procedure as suggested by some. Not so fast, said Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith at CatholicHerald.co.uk. “We certainly need better bishops, but we will never have them until we have better priests,” he said, suggesting that seminaries should be replaced with another method of training men for the priesthood which involves living in the community. “Then, perhaps, we may have a better chance of getting pastors who, as the Pope loves to put it, ‘smell of the sheep’.”
A satirist reveals His nightmares
SC Naoum, author of the satirical website Eye of the Tiber, has revealed his fear that the jokes might go too far. He told Catholic News Agency: “I’ve literally had nightmares of being excommunicated because of an article.” Amongst his recent “news reports” was the story of a priest was who delayed Mass due to a Pokemon addiction: “During the Penitential Act, Fr Ross made his way down the main aisle and beneath several pews where he is said to have successfully hunted down a Charmander.”
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor burst into song on BBC Radio Two last week. He surprised those listening to Pause for Thought by giving a rendition of “Keep the Home Fires Burning”, a song composed in 1914 by Ivor Novello. It impressed the host, Chris Evans. “That was fantastic, Cardinal,” he said.
Singing, said the Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, said “brings people together.” He advised: “Find an occasion to sing either alone or with others. It will lift your heart.”
✣ A statue of the Roman emperor Constantine has suffered an indignity the man himself would never have allowed – the theft of a sword from his own hand. A spokesman for York police said the sword had been “kicked out” of the statue, which stands between the Minster and the Church of St Michael le Belfry, on Wednesday night, with local reports that the culprit was seen “brandishing it”. A man has since been arrested on suspicion of causing damage to the statue.
✣ Caritas in Poland is to raise money for Syrian refugees and Polish people in need by selling three Volkswagen Golf cars used to transport the Pope during his visit. They will be sold in an online auction on Sunday.
✣The week in quotations
When you leave the door ajar, it will always open more Dutch Cardinal Willem Eijk warning about legal euthanasia Talk to Canadian bishops’ conference
My brows have not been without furrows for some months Archbishop Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, Philippines Pastoral message
No dictatorship can do anything against a silent man Cardinal Robert Sarah discusses his new book on silence Catholic World Report
Don’t say: ‘the Pope will bless transsexuals’ Pope Francis Catholic News Agency
✣Statistic of the week
The number of Jesuit general congregations from 1540 to this year’s
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