I put it in the headline to underscore I’m serious. Not cynical. Not making a funny.
Truthfully, I don’t want people showing up at the church doors because of some far-off bishop in Rome. Especially because we could get a Pius XIII or an Innocent XIV to blast it all to bits in another decade. The pope should be irrelevant to the choice of a believer to come to Mass, to live the faith, and to aspire to sainthood.
The real attraction for believers and seekers should be a welcoming community that practices the Gospel it preaches. Period. No cults of celebrity. Not even pastors.
I am sure Pope Francis would agree that it is incumbent on believers in every parish to make their faith community more welcoming and to do so with an eye outside the church walls, and not tending to those who should be the medics, nurses, and doctors of the field hospital.
That said, if there is a Francis Effect in the US, it’s probably stopping the hemorrhage of discouraged Catholics. We have a whole lot of work to do to regain trust that has been battered by the administrative scandals of bishops. Let’s put that part back to wholeness and work from there.