Sunday, December 16, 2007

Extreme Makeover: Pope Edition

The quote recently appeared in the London Telegraph: "'Benedict still comes across as quite cold, which is a problem in his job.'" Who said it? None other than the film director Franco Zeffirelli of Jesus of Nazareth fame.

Several things are quite wrong with that quote.
  1. No matter how you dress him up or try to change his image, those who hate Pope Benedict will continue to hate him because it isn't really an image problem. It's an obedience problem.
  2. Maybe part of the problem is the people who continue to call Pope Benedict XVI "Pope Ratzinger".
  3. Papal robes are too opulent and flashy? Which ones? He can't possibly mean the white simar and zuchetto. Oh! He means the chasubles? Well, they aren't really papal robes. The as the vestments of the Mass which are proper to any priest. As for opulent and flashy, I guess we should get rid of the gold chalices too and start using ceramic. Oh, I forget...been there and done didn't work. I guess selling the Pieta will be next on Franco's list.
  4. No matter how Pope Benedict looks on TV and in pictures he is very warm in person. I am saying this as someone who has stood face to face with him. Cold is not only of the words I would use to describe him.
  5. Franco says that he "is in continual contact with his [Pope Benedict] inner circle". So am I. So what? Some may be impressed with that, I am not.
  6. The best line is at the end where he says that he "has directed holy ceremonies at the Vatican in the past". Hmmm, could that have been where the Liturgical ballerinas came from? Just asking.

Franco does have a point that Pope Benedict's personality doesn't always translate well onto film, but seriously so we want a Pope or a movie star. I think that after 26 years of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, we have forgotten that there is more to the papacy than a friendly face and a well timed joke. Yes, we live in the age of the instant media, but I think people intelligent enough to realize that what a pope does and says is what is really important.

As for the image problem, Franco, check out the audience stats. Pope Benedict XVI's crowds are blowing Pope John Paul II's numbers out of the water. Benedict is getting so many people that they very often they have to be separated into two groups.

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