Testimony: Pope Francis is Leading Lost Sheep Back to the Church

Photo: Preparatory Committee for the 2014 Papal Visit to Korea

Splendor of The Church has this encouraging report from Fr. Manuel Francisco, a Jesuit from Manilla, who says that a large number of people who for some reason had fallen away from the Church to join other sects, have recently found sufficient reason to re-embrace Rome due to the Pope Francis' leadership by example.

“Even in the Philippines many have turned their backs on the Church and entered other denominations. The general, prevailing attitude then was disappointment with the Catholic Church … But Pope Francis has changed all that,” he said.

Francisco, who is also the general facilities supervisor of the Loyola School of Theology (LST) in Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), believes that the pontiff has regained the confidence of many Catholics by making the Catholic faith “cool “ again .

“By this example, he has made living and witnessing the Catholic faith attractive,” the priest stressed.

Moreover, Francisco pointed out that the Holy Father is able to reach out to the secular world, as well as to non-Catholic religions in a way that promotes dialogue. He think that the openness of Pope Francis has won him the admiration of both Catholics and non-Catholics without him changing Catholic standards of morality.

Meanwhile, preparations are already underway for His Holiness’ upcoming Philippine trip set on Jan. 15 to 19, 2015. Details of the preparations will be revealed either in late November or early December, said Manila Archbishop Luís Antonio Cardinal Tagle in a recent press briefing.

Local Church officials believe the apostolic visit will renew the spiritual well-being of Asia’s largest Christian nation, over 80 percent of which identify as Roman Catholics.

Pope Francis will be the third of his office to visit the Philippines, following Bl. Pope Paul VI in 1970, and Pope St. John Paul II in 1981 and 1995.

I do have reservations that this article, or Father Francisco is, in some way, seeking to exploit a false dichotomy between the papacy of nasty Pope Benedict and lovely Pope Francis. The idea that Pope Francis is more open and able to bring about dialogue is in direct contradiction to the fact of Benedict's papacy, which brought about great strides in ecumenism, including a broadening of discussions with the SSPX, Summorum Pontificum, and Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Perhaps it could be said that these "lost sheep" are being lured back by a media perception of Pope Francis as a more "liberal" pope, or that he might change Church teaching in some way. We should remember that prayer doesn't change God, it changes us. Therefore if they're open to some sort of change, it might not be the change they're expecting!

Whatever the real reasons behind their return, what is evident is that God seems to be drawing many back. This, then, is the moment to proclaim Christ to them and call them to discipleship.

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