Sudden Pope-ularity, Part II
by Stephen Foster
This is an enormously interesting video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA4EPOfic5A. It will serve as a Rorschach test.
My perspective, of course, is that this is precisely what many/most Adventists have anticipated. (Has anyone besides Seventh-day Adventists anticipated this?)
Here is what I see quite frankly: I see a purposeful and progressive public relations strategy and initiative in effective implementation.
This is an apparent appeal for unity. Unity is one of those ideals that are universally appealing because divisiveness is unappealing. This is a lesson that religious denominations and political parties seem to be learning.
On NBC’s Meet the Press (Sunday, March 9, 2014) political operative and Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed said that the Republican Party should emulate the pope. “The Republican Party has got to do what Francis is doing with the Catholic Church,” Reed said. “Francis is putting the poor and care for the poor and amelioration of the poverty where it belongs, which is at the center of the gospel.”
Putting “the poor at the center of the gospel” is new rhetorical ground for conservatives, as that’s traditionally liberal territory, but the strategy is clear, as Reed had said, “A lot of this is about connecting with voters and constituencies that haven't always felt welcome in our ranks.”
This of course dovetails with Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s earlier assessment that the new pope is effectively implementing “a change in strategy” (see video in Sudden Pope-ularity, Part I).
When asked in his March 9, 2014, Meet the Press interview what this pope must do to help the Catholic Church remain relevant beyond Francis I’s first year, particularly in America and throughout North America, Cardinal Dolan said “What he's gotta do…and he knows it, and he's off to a good start, okay, his first year has been good—he's got to restore the luster of the church. See, for us as Catholics, what—our core belief and where we differ from others is that we believe that God has revealed himself in Jesus, and that Jesus remains alive in his church, okay?” “People today say, ‘Hey, we like God and Jesus, we don't need the church.’ For us as Catholic, we're saying', ‘Uh oh, that's—that's not how we understand God's design.’ Pope Francis is saying, ‘We've got to restore the luster, the appeal, the intrigue, the mystery, the romance, the invitation to the church.’ And he's doing' it on steroids. And that's his major agenda, I think."
Well, I would say that the video highlighted in this blog would indicate that the pope has at least a two-pronged agenda, in that it would appear that not only is restoration of “the luster, the appeal, the intrigue, the mystery, the romance [and] the invitation to the church” a goal, but he also has a goal of uniting Christianity.
(Not to upstage the video, but we really need to determine what Protestantism is. Then again, once you watch the video, you will see why this is important.)
Anyway, as for this representing a Rorschach test, what is it that you see?