Lately we've read a lot of how the Vatican has created terrible public relations blunders, by making nice with Jewish leaders, by lifting the excommunications of separatist bishops, by pissing off Jewish leaders... the list goes on. The Cornell Society for a Good Time wants to know "Should the Holy Father be 'with it'?"
It is a good question, and an article worth reading. Depending on the answer, it can lead us down the wrong path. Some traditional Catholics believe that the late John Paul II tried too hard to cultivate a "rock star" image. I ask myself that question, whenever I walk through a Catholic bookstore these days, wondering how it is possible to add five mysteries to the "traditional" rosary, without reinventing the term "Our Lady's Psalter." (If you have to ask what that means, you're in no position to challenge it. Alas, another story for another day...) I also wonder about it when people attempt to assign delusions of grandeur to the very different man who is our current Pope. If this is how excited we get when an 80-year-old priest is seen in public wearing sunglasses, we’ve got a bigger problem with ourselves than the Vatican does with its public image.
I suspect the Holy Father gave up trying to second-guess the quirks of skeptics and unbelievers a long time ago. If you want to see a REALLY bad bungling of a popularity contest, read the sixth chapter of John. Obviously the subject of that episode should have paid better attention to his handlers. Likewise, when the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops were lifted, the Holy See had no control over who would or who would not “get it” when it came to what did and/or did not happen. In the overall scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter whether an empty suit on the evening news, or a certain nearly-bankrupt major daily newspaper makes of it. Those who want to know the real deal, know where to look, and where not to.
“We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness.” (1 Cor 1:23) Did we really think we’d have better luck with anything else?