As you are probably well aware, Pope Francis is cool. The media dubbed him “The People’s Pope.” Although he frequently makes headlines, this week is abuzz with stories as he visits Cuba and the U.S. for the first time.
Both Catholics and non-Catholics alike are inspired by his joy and integrity. His popularity is bringing back fallen away Catholics and converting others.
Yes, it’s true the media doesn’t report many of the Pope’s comments on hot button issues, so we can squabble about whether or not fans know the real Francis. But, one thing is certain—the Pope is popular and he’s causing people to consider the Catholic Church in a positive light.
Could this be an opportune time to capitalize on the “Francis Effect?” A new study published by the Pew Research Center shows that 45% of Americans are Catholic or connected to Catholicism. And while it’s true that many American Catholics see no problem with contraception, cohabitation and gay marriage, the study shows a whopping 90% of Catholics still believe that the best way for children to grow up is with their married mother and father.
However, the study also shows that an alarming 70% of American Catholics think it is acceptable for a husband and wife to choose not to have children. Hopefully, those who feel parenting is a life-style choice will pay attention to what Pope Francis has to say about family life this week.
On Tuesday he delivered these words in a meeting with families in Santiago de Cuba:
Without family, without the warmth of home, life grows empty, there is a weakening of the networks which sustain us in adversity, nurture us in daily living and motivate us to build a better future.
The family is a school of humanity which teaches us to open our hearts to others’ needs, to be attentive to their lives. Amid all the difficulties troubling our families today, please, never forget one thing: families are not a problem, they are first and foremost an opportunity. An opportunity which we have to care for, protect and support.
No doubt about it: the perfect family does not exist; there are no perfect husbands and wives, perfect parents, perfect children, but this does not prevent families from being the answer for the future. God inspires us to love, and love always engages with the persons it loves. So let us care for our families, true schools for the future. Let us care for our families, true spaces of freedom. Let us care for families, true centers of humanity.
Can CCL and Catholic family life benefit from the “Francis Effect?”
Let us pray that we do! Let us pray that all of Pope Francis’ fans are paying attention to his words this week. Let us pray for the softening of hearts. The weeks following the World Meeting of Families would be an excellent time for CCL volunteers and NFP users to reignite your promotional efforts or just talking to others about NFP. Use Live-the-Love concepts to decorate bulletin boards in your parish, place an ad in the bulletin, advertise on social media, order new NFP brochures for church or the doctor’s office. You never know how the Holy Spirit may work through Pope Francis to change hearts and minds. Let’s be sure people know who we are and where they can turn to create a healthy and happy family life rooted in God’s love.
Anyone feeling called to help CCL in doing more for NFP should learn how to do more!