Papal Persuasions: 5 Ways for Pope Francis to Attract People to Catholicism

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It’s no secret that the Catholic Church has had a bit of a rough go lately. They aren’t exactly the most highly regarded religious institution, and they are losing parishioners in droves due mostly to dated practices and their refusal to adapt to the 21st century. A new Pope could change all of that, though, if he wants to. And while the choice of Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis), a 76 year-old conservative that has been linked to the kidnapping of a liberal priest, doesn’t exactly say “we’re ready to make progress,” you never know. So what can the new Pope do to turn this thing around?

5 Reconsider Marriage

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Come on guys, are you really in a position to be alienating people? Your current attendance numbers aren’t exactly staggering. It’s time to open your minds about the whole same-sex marriage thing and establish yourselves as a progressive religion that welcomes people from all walks of life. Despite your worst fears, allowing same-sex marriage is unlikely to be a slippery slope that leads to a man wanting to marry his mop. And if it does, so what? Allow that too! You marry that nut-bar and his Swiffer Wet Jet, and you make it the most beautiful ceremony anyone’s ever seen. At this point, it’s all about doing whatever it takes to get heads in the door.

4 Redecorate

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Stained-glass windows and soaring steeples are truly beautiful, but are they going to draw the people in? The Catholic Church as it stands is overly outfitted with Gothic features and graphic imagery. Have you seen the Stations of the Cross? It looks like a snuff filmstrip. Let’s get rid of some of this downtrodden old stuff and lighten the mood a bit. You’ve already got all those candles—that’s a start. Now just make them sugar-cookie scented. And if you’re going to have a guy hanging on a cross, at least accent it with some vibrant drapes or a maybe a decorative vase of lavender and orchids.

3 Update the Hymns

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It’s nice that you sing during mass, but why not take a lesson from the Baptists and give us a little something to bump to? The Catholics hymns are just too old school; they come off more like creepy chants that precede the drinking of the Kool-Aid or the long march off a short cliff. If you want to convince young people to join your Church, try making it a little less Holy Trinity and a little more “Holy sh*t, this is my jam!” After all, nothing says “We’re the hip, fresh religion,” like laying down a fat bass-line over “Be Not Afraid.” Oh snap, here comes the drop….

2 Ditch the Christ Cracker

Okay, so receiving communion during mass comes with a sip of wine. That’s great, help your flock get through the often-dull process by allowing them to get a little buzz on. That’s forward thinking. The only problem is that wine is paired with the Eucharist, which is a wafer that tastes like a thin slice of damp sheetrock. So why ruin a good 2006 Blood of Christ by serving it with a stale cracker? How about complementing it with a quality cheese? No one is going to turn down a nice slice of Gouda with the blood of their savior.

1 New Wardrobe

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Look, between the Pope, all the Cardinals, the Bishops, the pawns and whatever other ranks there are, far too many meetings between the important Catholic figureheads look like some kind of weird Ku Klux Klan pajama party. It’s time to update the garb. This isn’t to say they should roll out in plaid shirts and fedoras, but there’s got to be a happy medium in there somewhere, right? It just hardly seems like floor-length robes and ceiling-height hats are the way to attract newer, younger followers. Maybe just rock some jeans once in a while—that doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

TK Kelly is a comic and writer who has performed at clubs across the country like the Comedy Store, the Improv, Gotham, and Standup NY. He has also written for Tosh.0, Comedy Central Studios, Funny or Die, Recycled Babies Sketch Comedy, and Second City. His standup comedy has been described as “a thing that happens sometimes,” and according to one of his grandmothers, he is a generally delightful young man. If he were forced at gunpoint to describe himself in one word, that would be a really weird hostage situation.

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