Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines has created a great deal of excitement throughout the nation, but will it lead to an increase in churchgoers, as hoped?
National holidays are being declared and road closures are commonplace as many wish to hear what Pope Francis has to say to the nation. As one of the more popular Popes in some time, many believe that his visit to the religious nation will be able to raise the number of people who attend church on a daily basis.
Pope Francis’ Popularity
Pope Francis is incredibly popular around the world for his views on social issues as well as for being a more progressive and open head of the church. The same sentiment carries over to the Philippines, where they hold the Pope in very high esteem. According to a recent Social Weather Stations survey that was completed only months ago, 71% of Filipinos have a very high trust rating in Pope Francis, and only 12% have little trust in him. This grants the Pope a net 59% trust rating in the nation, a high rating not seen since the early 1990s when Pope John Paul II led the church.
Increasing Church Attendance
Even though he is one of the most popular Popes in recent memory, the facts show that there are still some discrepancies between popularity and regular church attendance. For all Catholics, 41% of them attend church on a regular basis. For the Philippines, that number rises only slightly to a level of 50% of adults who attend on a regular basis. One of the causes of this is seen as the individuals in the nation not being as in tune with the Church’s spiritual message. In fact, one in every eleven Catholics has thought about leaving the Church at some point, according to a study completed by the SWS.
That is why the visit by Pope Francis is being seen as an opportunity for the Catholic Church to reaffirm the beliefs of its followers with Pope Francis. While he is known for having a great spiritual depth, the Pope is also known for his pragmatic and simple approach to social issues. Many Filipinos believe that the Pope’s visit could inspire the leaders of the Church to adopt his stances on social issues that could make people more willing to listen to its messages. Since the Pope is aware of the fact that so many people are turning away from the Church, many are certain that he will inspire people in all walks of life to evaluate their stance on church attendance.
About 6 million people gathered in the rain for the Pope’s farewell mass on Sunday. He asked everyone to come together as a community:
“May he enable all the beloved people of this country to work together, protecting one another, beginning with your families and communities,” the Pope said.