Pope moves US Catholics to give more
POPE Francis gave his security men plenty to think about yesterday when he went walkabout on a visit to Saint Mary of Oration Church in Setteville of Guidonia, near Rome.
The pontiff moved amongst the crowd seeking out sick children and invalids.
And yesterday, new research showed how the pontiff's enormous popularity has material benefits for the church.
According to a study, his appeal in America may not have directly transformed Mass attendances, but a new survey indicated he may be persuading Catholics to dig deeper and give more to the poor – another priority for the pontiff, who was elected a year ago last Thursday.
The survey showed that one-in-four US Catholics say they have increased their charitable giving in the past year, and 77pc of them say it's because of Francis.
"It is clear that Pope Francis and his message of mercy and joy, and a special concern for the poor, are inspiring US Catholics in their giving," said Alexia Kelley, head of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA), an association that promotes Catholic philanthropy.
The survey of just over 1,000 Catholics was done for FADICA and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The results also showed that half of those who were inspired to boost their donations were motivated by the Pope's message of compassion for the poor, and 44pc said Francis's exhortations to care for others will inspire them to give more to Catholic efforts or organisations.
"As FADICA looks to the future, this data suggests that the 'Pope Francis Effect' on Catholic giving will continue to grow, thus bringing the church's critical ministries and mercy to those who need it most," said Ms Kelley.
A Pew Research Centre survey released earlier this month found that US Catholics and the public give Francis high marks as Pope – 85pc and 66pc favourability ratings, respectively – but that has not yet translated into higher rates of Mass attendance, volunteering or going to confession.