I attended a Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good event on Wednesday that featured the journalist John Thavis (this is one of the perks of Millennial being a CACG project, the downside being my epic fail-level small talk as the sole introvert in a room full of bigwig Catholic extroverts). Thavis, the author of the new book The Vatican Diaries, spoke on a number of topics, but much of the conversation revolved around the election and papacy of Pope Francis. Thavis was actually one of the few people who foresaw the possibilities of the Pope’s election.
Thavis discussed the enthusiasm that has accompanied Pope Francis’ papacy. Pope Francis has used an approach and language that have really resonated with a lot of people, including young Catholics. Thavis also mentioned the Pope’s frequent allusions to the devil and wondered how this would play with young people who often see the devil in less personal terms and are not used to this type of rhetoric. And Thavis noted that Francis has been active on social media, something that matters for the Church when it comes to connecting with young people, though Thavis believes that there should be more interaction and engagement via social media rather than just one-way traffic coming out of the Vatican.
These discussions led to some thoughts about what the New Evangelization is all about. Is it about bringing in egghead agnostics or brining back/keeping disaffected Catholics? Thavis seemed to indicate that with Francis’ election, there may be shift in focus toward the latter. And he observed that Pope Francis seems more interested in showing what following Christ is all about rather than focusing predominantly on apologetics.