The People's Pope

Like many of America's 69 million Catholics, Kristen Brown's relationship to her faith is complicated. She was raised Catholic, received the sacrament of Holy Communion and went to religious education classes - for years.

But at the same time, things were happening in Brown's life that went against many of the church teachings. Her parents were divorced and she learned her father was gay. By the time she was in her 20s, Brown was seriously re-thinking her Catholic faith.

Father Bryan Hehir, Harvard Professor and a Secretary at the Boston Archdiocese, knows the statistics well. When he was growing up in the 1950s and 60s, the vast majority of Catholics went to church every Sunday.

There's also been a drop off in the Number of American Priests. In 1966, at Father Hehir's Boston ordination, he was one of 35 new priests.

These days, only about five to eight new priests are ordained in the Boston Archdiocese each year.

Still, Catholicism is the majority religion in the U.S., with 25 percent of Americans identifying as Catholic.

The U.S. has the fourth largest population of Catholics in the world after Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines. Those numbers are bolstered by the millions of Hispanics who have balanced off the losses of US Catholics in recent years among other ethnic groups.

Due to large numbers of so called "Cafeteria Catholics," like Kristen Brown, who feel that Pope Francis is a bringing an open mindedness and inclusivity to the church. It's bolstering his reputation for being the People's Pope. 

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