One of the great promises of the Pope Francis era was that his pardon of liberalism's sins, his open condemnation of more conservative and traditional expressions of Catholic and Christian faith, and his general dismissal of the Church's trappings would endear him to new converts and revitalize those Catholics long isolated by the American Conservative Catholic Church. Like the promise that Gene Robinson would usher in a floodgate of new Episcopalians, so Francis would see endless busloads of eager disciples clambering to reignite their Catholic faith walk.
Except, just like Robinson's case, it hasn't. In fact, after a period in which the Church's long decline in America seemed to be leveling out, it looks like the number of Catholics attending Mass has once again started the long trail downward, at least since 2014. Rod Dreher has the scuttlebutt, including not only what it might mean, but what it likely doesn't mean.
I'm in no way suggesting Francis is the reason for such a decline one way or another. And it isn't as if Catholics alone aware watching their numbers drop within this civilization that is itself on the road to oblivion. It is to say that the boasts of Pope Francis's most fanatical devotees, that his Twitter era demeanor and manner and progressive sympathies were bringing a grand, new reformation and revitalizing among the Faithful, seems to have been fanciful dreaming. They will have to find other arguments to defend the manners of Pope Francis than simply 'look at the numbers for proof!'.