The Cincinnati Enquirer‘s John Faherty has a story in this morning’s edition speculating on the impact of Pope Francis in attracting the faithful. While it is far too early to tell, his straightforward preaching may have some appeal — he explicitly mentioned the devil in his first two addresses — I have my doubts about the allure of his assertive liturgical minimalism. I suspect it will be just as off-putting now as it was in the ’80s when it was in vogue. In any event, Faherty interviews three local Catholics, two of a “progressive” bent and one more traditional. Here’s a snippet from the story:

“I think Francis is a step in the right direction. Not as progressive as I would have hoped for, but then again nobody who had a legitimate shot of being elected would have fit with my definition of a progressive pope,” said Nate Pelley, 32, of Delhi.

Pelley attended St. Teresa of Avila and later Elder High School, but he has drifted from the church.

He was not satisfied with the church’s response to corruption and pedophilia scandals and hopes that Francis will help tackle those issues more directly. But still, he says, it will take time. “There is no pope who is going to make me immediately run back to church this weekend. It is going to take a while to convince me that the church has changed and is progressing.” [Editor’s note: This bit is rather amusing, as it was under “progressive” bishops like Bernardin that the … behavior at the heart of the scandals thrived.]

Many Catholics may never come back. A 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life showed that of those who left the church to become unaffiliated with any organized religion, 65 percent stopped believing with Catholicism’s teachings. A majority of them, 56 percent, were dissatisfied with Catholic teachings about abortion and homosexuality.

But many others, of course, believe their church is on the right path and should maintain traditional values. Colleen Swaim, 31, of Hartwell, has stayed with the church. She teaches at Covington Latin and thinks Pope Francis is just what Catholicism needs to keep people in the pews, and maybe to bring them back.

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