Saturday, January 2, 2016


The Vatican reported that attendance at papal audiences at the Vatican in 2015 is more than half it was in 2014. There are many reasons for this not the least of which is the threat of terrorism in large crowds and the Vatican's notoriously lax scrutiny of those entering the St. Peter's Square for events.

I would suggest too, that Pope Francis is aloof in some gatherings and does not seem to generate the same excitement as the so-called introverted Pope Benedict who, compared to Pope St. John Paul II in his heyday was quite extroverted and generated immense excitement at public events be they Mass or some other type of audience.

Since Pope Francis, those at Mass are warned not to applaud the pope at the entrance and recessional and if you watch Pope Francis, he looks dour, almost mad, as he enters and leaves St. Peter's.

Compare this to a recession at St. Peter's for the Easter Vigil with Pope Benedict XVI who supposedly always ignored the pilgrims and never blessed them as he entered or departed the basilica: 

And now Pope Francis:

Of course the traditionalists out there would prefer the somber, reverent approach of Pope Francis, no?


Bill Hobbs said...

Of course, it was easy to leave out that the numbers still remain significantly above his predecessors....

Bernard Fischer said...

I suspect the fear of terrorism is keeping some American's from traveling to Rome and gathering in a big target-rich crowd. I don't know how many people in those audiences are Italians and I don't know how terrorism might impact their behavior, though. I also suspect that the continuing economic doldrums in some parts of the West are causing some number of people to downgrade their vacations from an international tour to a visit to the local beach or amusement park. But I don't know if those two groups are big enough to affect the overall numbers.

If I was planning a trip to see the Pope, I'm not sure I'd be influenced by whether he smiles during the processional. I wouldn't even know what to expect. Now, if he glowered at me I might be inclined to not go back, but for me a trip to Rome is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so it wouldn't have any overall impact on attendance: I wouldn't be able to go back anyway.

This is a counter-intuitive post that seems to come out with every Pope. Pope Benedict XVI, a shy introverted man known by the most horrible of nicknames like Panzer Pope, supposedly had larger audiences than the charismatic bridge-builder John Paul II. And now Francis, beloved by NBC and the BBC supposedly is losing his "cool" factor. I'm rather skeptical. I think it's just click-bait. I haven't noticed any change -- positive or negative -- in the way he's perceived in my local parish with it's mix of conservatives and progressives. He still seems to be very popular. It's possible that NBC and the rest would like his popularity to decline until such time that he fully signs off on their sexual agenda.

John Nolan said...

A bishop should bless right and left when entering and leaving. Even the pope (look at Pius XII from the sedia gestatoria). And when celebrating in one of the Roman Basilicas in the presence of pilgrims from all over the world, he should not be celebrating in Italian, spoken only in Italy and parts of Switzerland.

He processed into Santa Maria Maggiore to the strains of Paul Inwood. I would expect that a lot of churches will be singing this tiresomely repetitive number since it's been adopted as the official 'hymn' of the Jubilee of Mercy. Not, thankfully, any church run by FSSP, ICKSP, SSPX or the Oratorians. I hope.

Michael A said...

He promised that he was going to retire soon. When will that happen or did he say it just to draw attention to himself? He needs to be reminded of that about every six months. If you offered me an expense paid trip for two to the Vatican for next Christmas I would say; "No thanks", unless the promised retirement happened. So I don't care if he smiles or frowns.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Pope looked well and seemed to be strained. All with him looked rather miserable and going through the motions. It's reported that morale in the Vatican is low and what can we expect with all the negative sermons that have emanated from the Vatican during this pontificate. I think morale generally in the Church is low, even lower than during the pedophilia crisis.