Shortly after the release of The Francis Effect in 2014, I wrote an article describing the film as “an attempt to shed light on the remarkable moment in which the Catholic Church has unexpectedly found herself.”
That film took an in-depth look at the first year of Francis’s pontificate and the themes rapidly emerging from it. It was as exciting to make as it was challenging. Pope Francis was a moving target. The Catholic world was as shocked as anyone by what they saw and heard. Everyday something new and different was happening.
But more than anything, Catholics were surprised by the speed with which things were changing. This is the immutable Catholic Church, after all!
The Canadian theologian Bernard Lonergan astutely wrote that “The church inevitably arrives on the scene, late and a little out of breath.” But here, seemingly out-of-the-blue, came Francis trailblazing and challenging all of us to keep pace. As Pope, he has recalibrated the church’s mission, calling us to be more proactive and less reactive, outward looking rather than inward looking, bold and prone to mistakes rather than isolated and safe.
And suddenly we, as a church, find ourselves on the frontier in a suffering world we do not fully understand but are called to help and serve. What will we do? This is the next story to be told in the Pope Francis era.
THE FRANCIS IMPACT features a variety of remarkable stories, including ordinary Catholics working on the margins, women religious and bishops, and those outside the Church who see in Francis a partner in dialogue, a unique moral voice, and a beacon of hope for all of humanity. This is not a film about Francis changing the church; it’s a film about the church changing the world.