Poll Suggests the Francis Effect Could Get Catholics into Pews More Often and More Donations Flowing

SAINT LEO, Fla., Oct. 5, 2015 — (PRNewswire) — Pope Francis' first trip to America may prompt some Catholics to attend Mass more frequently, and to donate more to Catholic causes, according to a new survey conducted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

The independent, nonpartisan institute affiliated with Saint Leo University conducted a special poll September 27-29, just after the end of the pontiff's American visit. Of American Catholics polled, 92 percent said they feel either strongly favorably or somewhat favorably about their pope.

"People sometimes wonder why the visit of a pope can have such importance for Catholics. Catholic spirituality is a sacramental spirituality," said Saint Leo University theologian Dr. Michael Anthony Novak. "That means that Catholics see visible things as being signs of God's invisible activity in the world: in the bread and wine of the Eucharist, or in the water of Baptism, to point to two major examples. In the same way, the pope's actual job is to be the center of unity in the Catholic Church: he is the bishop of Rome, united with all the other bishops of the world. When Catholics encounter the pope, they can get a stronger sense of the unity in love that they experience in God, because the pope -- in his office and in his person -- is the visible sign of that unity within the global Catholic Church."  

Catholics taking the survey reflected on their level of engagement, as 51.5 percent responded that they intended to increase their own Catholic Church service attendance and 39.3 percent noted they intend to increase donations to Catholic causes.

Of course, intention and action are two different things, noted Dr. Christopher Wolfe, assistant professor of psychology at Saint Leo University. "When presented with the opportunity to tell or show others our good intentions to change a negative behavior, we tend to jump at the chance and also tend to 'feel' better after sharing; we enjoy letting others know just how 'good' we hope to be," Wolfe explained. But other influences matter, too, he said: "their own individual parish experiences may play a large, if not greater, role in whether or not they make the drive on Sunday morning or open up the wallet."  

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/poll-suggests-the-francis-effect-could-get-catholics-into-pews-more-often-and-more-donations-flowing-300154183.html

SOURCE Saint Leo University Polling Institute

Contact:
Saint Leo University Polling Institute
Kim Payne, Saint Leo Office of University Communications, (352) 588-7233
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