Rorate Caeli has shared a photograph taken at the General Audience of Pope Francis on Wednesday, showing a sparse attendance. I have never had the pleasure to be in attendance for any papal audience but I am aware that large crowds are the norm and to attend requires a ticket. He drew an average attendance of nearly 28,000 in 2014, which is much less than those for 2013 which were approximately 52,000 people with tickets and supposedly another 20,000 (according to this article) more in the surrounding plaza and streets without tickets. We keep hearing and reading of his immense popularity, yet my sense is that he is losing that popularity more quickly than the Pollyanna crowd would want to acknowledge. It seems to me that most of those making the effort to attend a general audience would be real Catholics and perhaps real Catholics have grown leery of our pope and are reluctant to attend a general audience as he becomes more clearly understood, as difficult as that is. Of course, that is only speculation, but speculation based upon the explosion of articles and blog posts discussing the angst he is creating that I have read over the past several months, as well as conversations I have with friends who care about the Faith. The sense has gone from he’s the pope, give him a chance, to a foreboding of something not good coming along.
Although I am not out taking polls, those people that pay attention with whom I speak are now reluctantly expressing their perplexity and concern about what our pope is saying; those who don’t pay attention still say he’s “great” but have nothing substantive to say when asked why they think he’s great. I wonder also if my own parish priests are beginning to have their own doubts since I have noticed that the pope is not quoted in the bulletin very often anymore as compared to his first year as pope, although I have not asked them and they have not said anything. Moreover, this past December a Franciscan priest came for a parish mission, which I attended one evening. During his talk, he gushed about Pope Francis and then asked how many there just loved him. Only half of the two hundred present clapped for him. I expected much more since I keep hearing how popular he is. The bloom is off the rose I believe.
Rorate Caeli shared the photograph of the crowd at this past Wednesday’s General Audience, which is the audience where he changed his mind about children now being a gift, at least for this week, which I wrote about here.
“Here’s a photo newspapers won’t show: An empty St. Peter’s Square for Wednesday’s General Audience”HERE IS A PHOTO THAT THE NEWSPAPERS WILL NOT SHOWAntonio SocciFeb. 11, 2015It was taken this morning [February 11, 2015] by a friend of mine during Pope Bergoglio’s general Audience. St. Peter’s Square as you can see is somewhat empty, despite it being February 11th, the Feast of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes and the day for the sick, with a flux of delegates from Unitalsi [the “National Italian Union for the Transportation of the Sick to Lourdes and other International Shrines].The phenomenon of Pope Bergoglio’s increasingly “empty” audiences, has been going on for some time now, although the media talks all the time about the (invisible)“crowds” and the Vatican establishment confirms this account. This phenomenon is parallel with the sales of Pope Bergoglio’s books, which are anything but flourishing: try and ask the publishing houses and you will be surprised…Let’s make a few reflections on this:1. Being acclaimed by [Repubblica editor and papal interviewer Eugenio] Scalfari and [Radical Party leader Marco] Pannella does not bring the faithful to St. Peter’s Square, and, above all, does not bring converts into the confessionals and churches.2. If Christianity is turned into an easy product of the mass- media, sooner or later the media-bubble will burst.3. Jesus in the Gospel had warned his Apostles: “Woe to you when men shall bless you: for according to these things did their fathers to the false prophets.” (Luke 6, 26) The apostles must seek the glory of Christ, not their own: “non nobis Domine…” I say this primarily for myself, but I believe it applies to everyone. Adapting Evangelical truth to what the world wants to hear and to chase one’s own popularity, not only goes against Jesus’ mandate, but in the end transforms that which should be the salt of the earth into a salt with no taste, which becomes insignificant.4. When even the media-bubble persists, due to the favour of the secular mass-media system, bound to the powers of this world, if Jesus Christ is not proclaimed integrally in all His truth which “judges”” the darkness of the world, then, the work of God is not being done, but something else is…5. In today’s audience, Pope Bergoglio said that he has been following the news from Lampedusa and expressed his sorrow at the recent death of some of the refugees. Of course, it is also our sorrow. However, I wonder: why doesn’t he also follow the news from North Iraq, Nigeria and other countries, where Christians are being persecuted and killed for their faith every single day?