Brandon Vogt

3 Ways You Can Use Pope Francis to Lead People Back to the Church

This is an excerpt from my big new project, RETURN: How To Draw Your Child Back to the Church, which you can find at ReturnGameplan.com. There are only a couple days left to get the special launch-week pricing and three special bonuses. Click here to learn more!
 


 
It was only a couple months after Pope Francis was elected in 2013 that people began talking about the “Francis effect.” The media showered attention on him. Facebook affirmed he was the most mentioned name on their website—more than any celebrity such as Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift. On Twitter, where Pope Francis has gained over 7 million followers, his tweets are now retweeted (i.e., shared) more times on average than the tweets of any other world leader—even more than the President of the United States.

The “Francis effect” extends beyond social media. A recent Pew survey found that among U.S. adults, roughly seven-in-ten express a favorable view of Pope Francis, with about 90% of Catholics giving him a favorable rating. One viral online article carried the title “Pope Francis Made My Mom Stop Hating Catholicism” and it explained how the pontiff’s example smoothed over a lifetime of anti-Catholic prejudices.

Another person shared the following story:

“Most of my extended family members aren’t practicing Catholics. But last year at my sister’s wedding, several family members approached me wanting to talk about Pope Francis, having heard so much about him in the news…I had the joyful confidence to share with them how Pope Francis’ moving gestures remind me of all the wonderful charitable works of service the Church provides for millions of people around the world. In the end, I think they left feeling warmer toward the Catholic Church than they had in a long time. And that’s a great place to start!”

Pope Francis is, as Bishop Barron has described, “the bomb.”

Which is great news if you have a fallen-away family member or friend, who has drifted from the Church. Even if your family member or friend has a low perception of the Catholic Church, chances are he still has a high opinion of Pope Francis.

If he’s like most Americans, he sees Pope Francis as a positive change for the Church. And if he’s a young person, he likely gets behind Pope Francis’ emphasis on mercy, serving the poor, and protecting the environment. In fact, the most common words used to describe Pope Francis—compassionate, humble, and open-minded—are all traits that especially appeal to young Millennials.

So how can you use the “Francis effect” to help lead fallen-away Catholics back to the church? Here are a few practical tips:

First, use Pope Francis to initiate conversations about faith. You might say, “I’ve been wondering, even though you haven’t been to Mass in a while, what do you think about Pope Francis?” You can then follow up with more questions, drilling deeper into what he likes or doesn’t like about the Pope. This will yield valuable information because his answers will likely reveal his own problems and concerns with Catholicism.

For example, if he says he really admires the way that Pope Francis cares for the poor, he may be insinuating that the Catholics he knows don’t exhibit that same compassion, and he’s turned off by this discrepancy. Therefore, discovering what he likes and dislikes about Pope Francis can help identify his major stumbling blocks to returning to the Church.

A second strategy is to give your child a good biography of Pope Francis, such as Austen Ivereigh’s The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope (Henry Holt, 2014) or perhaps his book-length interview titled A Big Heart Open to God: A Conversation with Pope Francis (HarperOne, 2013).

You don’t want to come across as proselytizing, as if you’re saying, “Here, read this so I can convert you!” Instead, as with the previous tip, simply pass on the book and say, “Hey, I found this great book on Pope Francis, and since everyone is talking about him, I’d be curious to hear what you think.” As before, listen carefully to his reaction to Pope Francis and the book, because chances are it will reveal his feelings toward (and his struggles with) Catholicism.

Finally, you might find and share a good Pope Francis quote. There are plenty on Pope Francis’ Twitter account, as well as the Facebook page Pope Tweets. As before, don’t just send the quote by itself, which may come across as passive-aggressive proselytizing. Instead, send the quote along with a comment that says, “What do you think about this? And what do you think about Pope Francis, in general?”

We Catholics have been given an extraordinary opportunity. Pope Francis has drawn the world’s attention to the Church. It’s one of the few times in recent memory that the world is talking about Catholicism, and not just because of scandal.

So let’s take advantage of this time and use Pope Francis as a real pontifex, a bridge by which people can journey back to the Church.
 


 
This is an excerpt from my big new project, RETURN: How To Draw Your Child Back to the Church, which you can find at ReturnGameplan.com. There are only a couple days left to get the special launch-week pricing and three special bonuses. Click here to learn more!
 
 
RETURN

  • sroysr

    Looks like another get rich quick scheme from Vogt.

  • sroysr

    Looks like another get rich quick scheme from Vogt.

  • John Albertson

    Brandon, bless him, is a naif and to that naivete he adds his consort with clerical careerists who dazzle with their ability to promote, publicize and favor what is politically correct in the degrading state of the Church today. It is a old game and for the good of his soul, Brandon should avoid it. Denying the disaster which is this papacy will not make it go away.

  • DJR

    My experience has been that, in regards to Pope Francis, people are feeling vindicated in their errors. The idea that there is some kind of “Francis Effect” that is bringing people back to Church is a complete illusion. Pope Francis was the ordinary of Buenos Aires for many years. What evidence is there that during his tenure people were flocking back to church? The opposite is true. Latin Americans continue to leave the Church in droves.

    • Auggie

      Brandon, Jimmy Akin, Mark Shea, etc… are selling an illusion about Francis… and making coin from it. One begins to think about Our Lord and the money changers. And one begins to think about millstones.

      • RodH

        I agree. Shouldn’t these “mainstream”, pseudo-orthodox “Catholics” be condemned by Pope Saladin for representing “unfettered Capitalism”? I can no longer take any of them seriously. to read and see the reality that Pope Francis is to the world, to hear what he has called for and supports, to watch the march of his allies as they tramp over the doctrines of the Church, the teaching of our lord and Savior, is wholly disgusting.

        But alas, I really do think truth is winning out in the sense that no longer can anyone pretend that this Pope represents the Catholic faith in true Spirit and Word. So the lies this Pope fosters can no longer be ignored.

        May God have true mercy on those who seek to repent from the evil that permeates the Church at this time.

      • Andy James

        I honestly can’t understand Mark Shea anymore, and I used to read and enjoy his writing quite a bit. He absolutely loves to beat up on any cleric or layperson he disagrees with (ie. Fr. Corapi, Michael Voris or the entire Legion of Christ) to a point where it really gets old, but he is Pope Francis’ first and foremost apologist. Either he has been drinking the west coast Kool-Aid too much or he is hearing something different than I am.

    • sroysr

      Cuz it’s a bunch of bull.

    • sroysr

      Cuz it’s a bunch of bull.

  • dfwfireman

    Pope Francis is a bomb, alright. He’s blowing up as much of the remaining Catholic Tradition as he possibly can, and in such a humble way 🙂

    • sroysr

      Isn’t it cool!

    • sroysr

      Isn’t it cool!

  • James

    Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the quintessential example of the “sixties priest” and emblematic of exactly why there was such a precipitous drop in vocations after “the council” until the pontificate of John Paul – though that “recovery” was weak. How many of these “sixties priests” aborted vocations to the priesthood and the religious life with their counter-intuitive “psychoanalysis” posing as spiritual direction and “relevant” spirituality. Every one of them is nothing less than duplicitous, fraudulent and mendacious, immersed in a form of atheism that they are not even able to discern in themselves. The fact that so many abandoned their vocations and the faith is probably a grace for the rest of us. Those that “hung on” because it fortified their self-aggrandized egos and protected them from having to engage in careers that would have lifted the veil on them, have not served us well. Inevitably we had to get saddled with one for pope. Let us pray it will pass with less damage than such a catastrophe could provide. Much more of this and the cultural Marxists and other secular materialists will have accomplished their purpose more than this writer can endure.

  • Elizabeth
    • Auggie

      The primary use of “new media” or any old media, is to tell the Truth. The Whole Truth. Brandon, seriously, open your eyes.

      • Elizabeth

        I haven’t read Brandon’s words in many years, since back when I was a brand new Catholic and before I’d discovered real true Catholicism. This is so disappointing that he views this Pope as he does. I guess that’s why I don’t read his stuff anymore.

      • Elizabeth

        I haven’t read Brandon’s words in many years, since back when I was a brand new Catholic and before I’d discovered real true Catholicism. This is so disappointing that he views this Pope as he does. I guess that’s why I don’t read his stuff anymore.

  • Jane Galt

    Brandon Vogt seems like a well meaning intelligent young Catholic gentleman. In order to get the most of out his ministry I would suggest the less said about Pope Francis the better. As someone mentioned in the comments, concentrate on what Christ said. Also, we have many doctors of the Church and wonderful saints to attract converts.

    • RodH

      A charitable start to your comment, but the article indubitably casts doubt on the second descriptor in the assertion of your first sentence.

      • Jane Galt

        Yours is probably the more charitable evaluation of Mr. Vogt. Otherwise, some – not me, I hasten to say – might conclude he’s writing what his boss wants to hear.

        • RodH

          Reasonable deduction!! LOL.

    • sroysr

      Actually B.V. seems more like a dweeb.

    • sroysr

      Actually B.V. seems more like a dweeb.

  • barnabus

    Bergoglio is a disaster. Perhaps the biggest buffoon in the history of the modern papacy. It will take decades to undo the damage from this papacy.

  • NoamJomsky

    I find it best to avoid talking about Pope Francis.

    • Elizabeth

      Or listening to him. Or thinking about him at all. Until the day he be gone. Please, Lord, quickly.

  • Meh, I’ll stick with quoting and invoking the name Jesus instead. Jesus is ALWAYS true ….. The thing about Pope Francis is that his ideas and his quotes are leading people away and into shadows of the Church.

  • RodH

    Quoting Pope Francis!

    Mmmm, so many, which one to use?

    How about his misquote of Jesus in para 161 of Evangelii Gaudium? How about the whole book {soon to be published, apparently} of insults he lays out at all those he doesn’t like, who for the most part are folks who are actually making demonstrable attempts to follow the challenging teaching of Jesus and the Church? Or maybe a better quote is his replacement of our Mother the Virgin Mary with the pagan goddess “Mother Earth” in his sitcom-ready “Laudato si”? Or how about his recent “teaching” {suggestion? capitulation…what to call it?} to the Lutheran spouse, you know, the one where he leaves reception of the Eucharist up to her. Or how about his not-to-be-forgotten doozy calling Kasper’s heresy “serene theology”? How about his categorization of Islam as a “religion of peace”? Or maybe if those don’t win enough “converts” how about his support for Agenda 2030 and its integral promotion of world-wide abortion?

    No, on second thought, I’ll stick to the Bible and the Magesterium of the Church when it comes to providing quotes to those seeking the truth of God.

    Indeed, I led my wife and 2 adult children to the Church thru the teaching of Catholic truth. Timing has left my last daughter at the mercy of this Pope whose chaos and confusion and support for heretics has left her utterly frustrated and angry and doubting. Can’t say I blame her, tho I continue to pray for her. So if I bow out and leave using the Pope as an evangelization tool to others, please cut me some slack.

    Honestly, this article is a crock.

  • James

    The man is unbalanced. Koochy-koo katholicism is a confection for those in
    deeply neurotic waters, requiring the utmost in childcare.
    Not adult fare. And lest anyone appeal to “…lest ye become like
    little children..,” our Lord was not exhorting us to infantilism, but true
    humility, not the masquerade that been adopted at Domus Santae Marthae.

  • John Albertson

    Pope Francis is a bomb just like the bomb dropped by the Enola Gay. When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mass attendance plummeted and the number of seminarians studying for the priesthood dropped 80%. Since he has been Pope, all the vital statistics of the Church are heading downwards. The crowds when he came to the USA were far below expectations (the mayor of Philadelphia was furious) and much less than those who went to see John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Brandon, you are not being realistic.

    • Andy James

      Let’s hope he’s one bomb that fizzles out before too much damage is done, and we get another strong leader like JPII or Benedict.

    • sroysr

      You guys are going down the tubes no matter who’s in charge.

    • sroysr

      You guys are going down the tubes no matter who’s in charge.

  • RW Cross

    Pope Francis “has drawn the attention of the world” by reinforcing the biases of secular society. These biases are that the Church tradition has been wrong and must eventually conform to the world on matters of sex, divorce, and the environment. Francis is in the unusual position of being the head of an organization that he wants to fundamentally transform rather than preserve. The net effect of Francis on the Church will probably be negative, because as Pope his fundamental responsibility is to guard doctrine and tradition, not change it.

  • RW Cross

    Pope Francis “has drawn the attention of the world” by reinforcing the biases of secular society. These biases are that the Church tradition has been wrong and must eventually conform to the world on matters of sex, divorce, and the environment. Francis is in the unusual position of being the head of an organization that he wants to fundamentally transform rather than preserve. The net effect of Francis on the Church will probably be negative, because as Pope his fundamental responsibility is to guard doctrine and tradition, not change it.

  • Auggie

    Some of my relativistic friends like Francis. But my friends who believe in objective truth do not like (or trust) him. I’m not sure you want relativistic people to join the Church. In fact, you certainly should not.

    • Ceile De

      Auggie – I think i understand what you are saying but surely we want everyone in the church, that they may be saved. We should hope to convince them that the relativstic way is not correct and will not lead to happiness. The bigger problem is that Francis is not attracting these people, they just feel (rightly or wrongly) confirmed by him that they are fine outside the church. The demoralising attacks by Francis (I do not think it is intended to demoralise) on those who try to hold to what all previous popes had taught is the elephant in the room here.

      • Auggie

        Relativism and the Church do not mix. So no, you do not want relativistic persons to join the Church, unless they repent and believe.

  • samton909

    Honestly, I would have expected something more…realistic. Pope Francis is wildly popular – in the media. Nowhere else is he wildly popular, unless you are going out of your way to ask communist dictators, atheists, and others who have traditionally hated the church.

    This Pope has the lowest favorability rating of my lifetime – I believe it was about 64 percent. All Popes in my lifetime have had at least 70 percent or much higher, usually north of 80 percent. Why are we going out of our way to pretend Pope Francis is the most popular Pope ever? He is, but only to the crowd that has spent the last 50 years trying to destroy the church.

    My brother, who is only nominally Catholic – he has not seen the inside of the church in years – saw Pope Francis on TV. He just calmly commented “We’ll never have another Pope as good as JP II” This was his way of saying that Francis was one big nothing burger to him. .

  • bonaventure

    What about all the more conservative/orthodox Christians who are really & truly turned off (i.e., utterly disappointed or disgusted) by Francis’ borderline heterodox performance? How to lead these back to the Church?

    While I suppose that my comment might be deleted, the above is a very serious question… so serious, in fact, that if the Francis tide does not soon change, the Church’s pastors will have to begin developing pastoral strategies out of thin air to bring back more and more such Christians.

  • Ceile De

    Sorry Brandon – the fewer quotes shared from pope Francis the better, unlike someone decides to publish his Little Book of Insults. For serious thinkers, and those who are not interested only because they think Pope Francis is giving a nod and a wink to junking doctirne, I recoomend almost any book by Pope Benedict. Or any Pope before him.

    • Andy James

      His quotes have mostly emboldened the Left and dissident Catholics…that is the real Francis Effect. I have a distant family member who is gay/active and he absolutely loves Francis…quotes him every day and posts about how the Church is finally changing for the better yada, yada, yada. He also loves Obama, MSNBC, Chris Matthews…all the usual suspects.

    • art

      really! you will be judged by the fruits of your labor.

  • Andy James

    I have had several conversations with non-Catholic or even atheist friends about Pope Francis, none of which have caused anyone to start coming to church or take a serious look at Catholicism. On the contrary, I am having regular conversations with lifelong Catholic friends and family members who are struggling with the “Francis Effect”, his confusing theology and his occasional downright mean-spiritedness toward folks that love doctrine and liturgy. The much more likely result of Pope Francis’ pontificate will be a widespread acceptance of conscience in place of sound catechism and a tongue-in-cheek attitude that the Church now allows [insert heresy here] even though her official doctrines say otherwise.

    • Andrew Joe Nelson

      Right On!

      • Baptismal Vows

        As a lay Catholic minister working with the unbaptized I am finding that conversion of an individual soul is only possible through the grace of the Holy Spirit working through Catholic Truth. It’s a change of hearts AND minds. The intrigue and pastoral example of Pope Francis may initially touch the heart but minds need changing for real conversion. Adherence to traditional Catholic doctrine is the only answer and the unbaptized tell me so.

        • ‘Follow me, and I will make you into fishers of men’. Not without reason does our Lord use these words: men — like fish — have to be caught by the head.
          What evangelical depth there is in the ‘intellectual apostolate’!
          – The Way, 978 | St. Josemaría Escrivá.

      • sroysr

        Groovy!

      • sroysr

        Groovy!

    • sroysr

      Sounds like he’s doing God’s work.

    • sroysr

      Sounds like he’s doing God’s work.

    • Brett Page

      Yes, he has certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons! Like Jesus Himself, Francis has taken on the religious elite and has suffered the same type of opprobrium Jesus experienced at the hands of the Pharisees. He challenges their lack of humility (the Cardinals travel business class and live in salubrious surroundings). He challenges the historical vitriol and lack of compassion for homosexuals (modern day lepers, who Jesus embraced, much to the angst of the elite). He exhorts them to get the ‘smell of the sheep’ on them; to get out of their palaces and rub shoulders with the people. He’s focussed more on the Gospels of Jesus (the recorded word and deeds of God, incarnate as man) instead of a catechism. He’s expanded the narrow focus of the Church from predominantly sexual matters (which Jesus spoke little about) to those of social justice and the placing of one’s own interests behind those of others (which he spoke loads about!). He held to account that imbecile Donald Trump and called him out on his un-Christian policies of exclusion and his fermenting of hatred against minorities (like another political wannabe did in Germany eighty years ago).
      Not sure he’s been mean-spirited against those who love doctrine and liturgy. They will always be free to wallow in that. It’s just that he teaches, as Jesus did, that worship is meaningless if not accompanied by good works and a compassionate heart. The Word of God, expressed by Jesus and recorded by the Gospel authors, must always take precedence over man-made doctrine. Hard to believe it actually needs saying. God Bless you and happy Easter! May God Bless……ALL of our countries (not just the one we usually hear at the end of that sentence)..

© 2019 Brandon Vogt

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