New Pope Putting People Back in the Pews? Evidence is Mixed.

Some news articles have suggested that Pope Francis’ “common touch” is persuading lapsed American Catholics to return to the church.  However, one quantitative measure of interest in the Catholic Church is less clear.

A Google Trends graph of the search term “Catholic mass times” in America shows a minor uptick in mass interest since the new Pope was elected relative to the same period in 2012.  However, more people were interested in finding out about mass times during Holy Week in 2012 than in 2013.  Data from future weeks will be needed in order to see if a sustained new interest in the Catholic Church becomes apparent.

Catholic Mass Search Times

Raw data is here.  Week 11 runs from 3/11/12 – 3/17/12 in 2012 and 3/10/13 – 3/16/13 in 2013.  Week 15 data for 2013 is only through 4/11/13 (the week ends 4/13/13).

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