Here is a typical scenario: I am walking my dog in the park and meet up with some people from the neighborhood who once had some association with the Catholic Church but have moved on for various reasons (kids no longer in the parish school – found something different – do nothing now) and they mention the pope. “This guy just might get me back into the Church.”
People come in to the Church for all kinds of reasons, some better than others. Hence the phrase, “Lord, I was duped and I let myself be duped.” But I am always a bit wary of numbers growing because of the personality of the pope, the priest, or even the youth director. When the emphasis is too much on the personality of a person, faith in God can remain anemic. So when the youth director must move on, the youth program disintegrates. When the priest is moved, the people drift away. When the pope says or does something unpopular (and he will – it’s the nature of the job – even Jesus found Himself in that position), then those who needed an excuse to go to Church find the reason to stay at home in bed.
At all times we are to be fingerposts, always pointing away from ourselves toward God and the Eucharist. I must decrease and He must increase. After all, we are finite and fallible. We will disappoint and get in the way. Rather, during that brief, glorious moment with a person when our charisma might, by the grace of God, have some sway, we welcome and rejoice and then point the way deeper inside.