Warning: The following commentary is about journalism, as opposed to the policies and theology of Pope Francis. Understood? Now, let's proceed.
Does anyone remember the "Francis Effect"?
That was the term -- quickly embraced as gospel by journalists around the world -- used to describe the wave of fresh air and new life that was expected to sweep through Catholicism as a result of the dawn of the Francis papacy in 2013. His humility and merciful stance on doctrine was going to bring Catholics back to the pews, especially the young, after decades of bookish legalism under St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
Now, do you think it would be big news in the mainstream press if the Gallup poll pros produced new numbers that showed that this had, in fact, come to pass?
#DUH, and validly so.
Now, with that in mind, let's look at the top of this new report from Gallup:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Weekly church attendance has declined among U.S. Catholics in the past decade, while it has remained steady among Protestants.
From 2014 to 2017, an average of 39% of Catholics reported attending church in the past seven days. This is down from an average of 45% from 2005 to 2008 and represents a steep decline from 75% in 1955.
By contrast, the 45% of Protestants who reported attending church weekly from 2014 to 2017 is essentially unchanged from a decade ago and is largely consistent with the long-term trend.
OK, this brings us into familiar territory, especially for the millions of readers who have read the thousands of news reports about the rising numbers, especially among the young, of religiously unaffiliated Americans -- or "Nones."
What interests me is what has not happened among Catholics post-2013.