His Vatican reforms, teachings on helping the poor and emphasis on humility have made Pope Francis a popular figure, but a new poll has found that little has changed when it comes to actual behavior of the Catholic Church at large.

The Pew Research Center poll found that while 85 percent of American Catholics have a favorable view of Pope Francis, there has been no discernible rise in the number of Catholics who attend mass or confession. Even the overall number of people who identify as Catholic has remained pretty flat. Read More


A new Pew Research Center poll has found that a majority of American Catholics believe Pope Francis is ushering in positive changes for the Church, but he hasn’t actually caused them to change their behavior. About 85% of Catholic polled have a favorable opinion of the leader, with 71% saying his shift in Vatican direction is improving things for the Church. However, when it comes to actually expressing their faith—through attending mass, going to confession or volunteering—little has changed. Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior analyst at The National Catholic Reporter told The New York Times that though the numbers aren’t exactly positive, the fact the church isn’t losing members could be an indication of Pope Francis’ positive influence: “This could be interpreted as showing that Francis has had no impact. On the other hand, since church attendance has been declining since the 1950s, the fact that it did not go down could be considered a victory” ... Discuss


The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has released a scathing report—originally commissioned by Pope Francis—which criticized the Vatican for not taking “the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children.” The report said that Catholic Church leaders have “not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed … and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators.” The UNCRC said that the church must “immediately remove” priests who have abused children, saying, "dozens of child sexual offenders are reported to be still in contact with children." In a response, The Vatican—which seemed surprised by the committee’s harsh tone—criticized the UNCRC for also taking issue with the church’s position on homosexuality and abortion. Though the U.N. does not have power to regulate the Vatican, it has asked the church to implement specified recommendations within the report by 2017 ... Discuss


Pope Francis may be one of the most well-known people in the world, but that hasn’t prevented him from taking time to minister to those living on the streets. In an interview, a top Vatican archbishop dodged the question as to whether the pope would disguise himself and join in giving alms to the poor in the evenings, saying, “When I say to him ‘I’m going out into the city this evening’, there’s the constant risk that he will come with me.” The Vatican’s Swiss Guards later confirmed to The Huffington Post that “the pope has ventured out at night, dressed as a regular priest, to meet with homeless men and women." It wouldn’t be the first time he’s temporarily left his post to minister to the poor. When he was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, he was known to leave during the evenings to bring meals to the homeless. Don’t worry. The pope is safe on the streets at night. He is, after all, a former bouncer ... Discuss


Pope Francis’ recent crackdown of financial corruption within the Vatican Bank has reportedly not set very well with local organized crime leaders. As CNN notes, the Vatican has a “long and complicated history” with Italian organized crime groups, with corrupt officials finding ways to covertly fund mob activity. Now that Pope Francis has ordered a crackdown on financial dealings, several mob groups are facing the loss of major revenue. Though mafia expert Antonio Nicaso told CNN that the Pope “has to be more cautious. He can't go walk around Vatican Square anymore like he's a normal person," the Vatican has said that the pontiff isn’t concerned about his safety. When asked about the threats, a Catholic Church official told a European news outlet, “The Holy See is not at all worried" … Discuss

Pope Francis is surveying the Catholic Church about changing values. Here's why Protestants ought to pay attention. Read More