Two Years After Elected Pope and Popularity Increasing

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
10 Mar 2015

The night two years ago at St Peter's Basilica in Rome when those in the Square and those around the world were introduced to the 266th Holy Father

It has been nearly two years since Cardinal Mario Bergoglio was elected the 266th bishop of Rome.
An Argentinean Jesuit who is the first in his order and the first from Latin America to hold the See of St Peter.

Choosing the papal name of Francis the new Holy Father stepped on to the balcony of St Peter's Basilica on 13 March 2013 to clapping and cheering of around 100,000 people who had gathered for two days waiting for the white smoke to appear  - the sign the world's 1.2 billion Catholics had a new Pope.

Worldwide reaction to the election of the 76-year old former archbishop of Buenos Aires spread quickly as he became known for a simple lifestyle and dedication to social justice, the sick and elderly, families and young people.

Whether it is his easy going meet-and-greet approach to everyone, apparent authentic and humble approach to the priesthood, "no frills" approach to his own lifestyle and determination to get the papal economic household back in order, Pope Francis' popularity is not only increasing with Catholics but non-Catholics alike.

Wherever Pope Francis has been he has drawn huge crowds. When he travels to the United States in September for the World Meeting of Families and where he will also address both houses of the US Congress the same is expected. Organisers believe upwards of two million people will attend the Mass with the Holy Father at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP during the papal audience at Paul VI Vatican auditorium hall last week

And he will make his first trip to the US as Pope knowing  nine out of ten Catholics say they have a favourable view of him.  A recent Pew Research survey in the US found Pope Francis is viewed favourably by 90 percent of US Catholics, rising to 95 percent among those who attend Mass regularly while 70 percent of non-Catholics also viewed him favourably.

At Pope Paul VI Hall at the Vatican this past week Pope Francis' popularity was resoundingly endorsed when 7,000 members of the Neocatechumenal Way, a lay group in the Catholic Church with a strong emphasis on evangelisation and catechesis, gathered for a special audience.

Among Archbishops and Bishops present for the audience was Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP. The Neocatechumenal Way first came to Australia in 1977.

Pope Francis and founder of the Neochatecumenal Way, Kiko Arguello

In the packed auditorium the Pope directed part of his talk to the 200 families who will soon embark on missionary work, forming small communities in various parts of the world and reaching out to non-Christians.

"Our meet6ing today is a missionary response in obedience to Christ's instuctio9n 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes will be saved.'" Pope Francis said

The Pope told the group he has often spoken of the "need for the Church to pass from a pastoral ministry of simple conversion to a decisively missionary pastoral ministry.
Founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, Kiki Arguello said later he was delighted with the Pope's endorsement and expressions of support.