Saturday, May 3, 2014

Pope Francis' Communication Methods: Helpful Or Harmful?

I have written over the past year about my concerns regarding Pope Francis.  See this anthology.  As you can see, some of my concerns stem from the caricature that that some adolescent-minded folks insist on creating of the Holy Father.  In one of my previous posts, I call this the "barneyfication" of the papacy.

Other concerns stem from the communication methods that the Holy Father seems intent on using, despite evidence that such styles are counter-productive at best.  Yesterday, Father Dwight Longenecker, in his blog post, asked the question "Is Pope Francis a Loose Cannon?"  He articulates well many of my concerns and, I suspect, concerns shared by millions.

Below I'll pull two paragraphs from Father's article that should be shouted far and wide, particularly in Vatican City.

Furthermore, shouldn’t a pope realize he is pope and behave accordingly? No matter what the pope’s personal style and personal preferences, he is now the pope and whether he likes it or not, people hang on his every word and action. Yes, yes, we all know that a chat with reporters on a plane or a personal phone call by a pope are not infallible doctrinal statements. The problem is, a huge number of people in the world don’t realize that. Pope Francis should therefore understand that he is no longer Padre Bergoglio and learn that one of the greatest things a pope can do is to not do anything.

There is another problem with Pope Francis’ style which is lurking in the background which I have not heard anyone else commenting on, and it is this: if a person in a public role trivializes that role with a very personal and informal style, then when they want to make a formal pronouncement the chances are that they will not be taken seriously. Make enough gaffes and speak off the cuff enough and soon the world will consider everything you say to be a gaffe and all your pronouncements to be inconsequential, off the cuff matters of opinion.

Hear!  Hear!

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