'Francis Effect' Brings Optimism, Openness In The Roman Catholic Church

(REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)Pope Francis kisses the statue of baby Jesus as he arrives to lead the New Year mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Jan. 1, 2015.

The Catholic world is awed by the simplicity, humility, and heart for the poor of His Holiness, Pope Francis.

Images of him embracing a boy suffering from cerebral palsy, hugging children and the disabled, walking to greet the crowd, reaching out to non-Catholics, reforming the Roman Curia, kissing a man afflicted with a rare disease, his telephone calls and tweets, and selfies with the people, have endeared him to the people of the world regardless of race or even religion.

"Francis Effect," as his pastoral touch is called, is getting Catholics who have turned their back from their religion back to the Church. There was a reported significant rise in church attendance in parishes worldwide, the biggest increase of which was in long-lapsed Catholics, since his election on March 13, 2013. In Rome, pilgrims and the faithful flock to hear the weekly papal mass and receive his blessing.

The confession boom was a result of "Francis Effect." Catholic priests reported a marked rise in the number of those going to the sacrament of confession. Testimonies from priests and bishops from Europe to Latin America prove that it is a worldwide phenomenon. Lots of people now go to confession and many say they are touched by the words of Pope Francis.

It was "Francis Effect" when over a dozen bishops gave up their luxury cars for cheaper models after Pope Francis said it pained him to see priests driving expensive cars.

Amid his soaring popularity, a study showed the name "Francesco" is No. 1 on the list of most popular baby names in Italy, noting that the impact of the former Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio is a major factor in the selection of the name.

"Francis Effect" continues to bring optimism and openness in the Church. The Holy Father always reminds the faithful of the importance of evangelization, peace, charity and service to the poor. He once tweeted: "The world tells us to seek success, power and money; God tells us to seek humility, service and love."

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