Who benefits from a “Superstar” Pope?
Who benefits from a “Superstar” Pope?
Anniversary of the election of Francis, Gianni Valente’s third episode. The yard of changes in the curial structure and the trap of neo-triumphalism
Pope Francis has said it many times - even to Die Zeit - that he is a fallible sinner. The poor among the people of God feel the closeness of this confession, as a companionship a sort of comfort, because it reminds everyone that even the Pope walks his path because he is embraced and supported by the mercy and blessing of God.
In the ecclesial apparatus, however, without a special gift, one cannot stay too long suspended in the "vertigo" of a miracle, entrusted to grace’s apparent precariousness. Soon will sprout those equipped to "draw conclusions", the surfers ready to ride the evangelical shock wave transmitted by the new Pope to the ecclesial body. Aspiring architects with their "always ready" projects on how to "revive" or "change the Church." Architects ready to re-adapt to the new contexts conditioned reflexes which had been already tested during other ecclesial seasons.
Part of the clerical apparatus formed in recent decades cannot believe having once again the chance to recycle on new arrangements and buzzwords, the instruments and the equipment they had already used during the long Wojtyla era. That part accustomed to treating the Pope as the "psychopomp" of the Church (curious expression used long ago by Giuseppe De Rita), a kind of miracle worker King, the "prime mover", the wellspring subject capable of infusing life energy to the ecclesial machine. "When idealized, I feel attacked," Pope Francis repeats, unheard. Thanks to a smart game of mutual backup with the papal pop icon blessed by mainstream media, and even with the polarization fueled by the networks of online anti-Bergoglio bullies, many lovers of the ecclesiastical-clerical Risk game realign their fronts under the banner of a new, paradoxical cult of the Pope -avenger, a lone hero against everyone that will free the Church from the bad guys. After all, compared to recent times, it is just tuning the new clericalism buzzwords a bit 'more to the left. The " left wojtylians ", after decades of derbies lost with "the right wojtylians,"are most certainly willing to parroting Pope Francis’s famous phrases on the poor and the "Church which goes forth", in case this is needed to balance the relationship of power between clerical networks.
The image shortcuts
Under the intoxicating smoke of self-celebration anything can happen. Even Pope Francis’ most cherished words and formulas, blended by the new conformism, undergo a genetic transmutation and turn into their opposite in the lexicon of a clerical neo-triumphalism too busy, like others, taking the merits. The ecclesial community is back to the the widespread use of image-shortcuts, special effects, always on the hunt for 'new records' and 'epochal turning points' that had already jammed Wojtyla's last years of pontificate. Groupies of clerical neo-conformism are delighted to call the "Church of Pope Francis" the Church which is of Christ (see Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam). Loading on his back the burden of freeing the opaque body of the Church of all its backwardness, that arthritis that make it slow and ineffective along with its real or alleged delays on the history roadmap.
Factions of fans applauding the Pope to applaud themselves. They draw him like a superhero with special powers, to be launched with adequate marketing operations, and transforming his most recurring phrases into loyalty encouraging mantras. But also, those increasingly troubled by the "irrelevance" of the Church, who perhaps are not too excited about the Argentinean Pope, recognize the merit of having revived the image of the "company", which appeared in poor condition. They are gearing up to spend the season, trying not to lose positions. Privately they give signs of impatience towards the style of the Bishop of Rome, but then write articles and pastoral letters jam-packed of "suburbs", "discernments" and "smell of the sheep." Supporters with interest and gangs of "media killer" hired against him seem rather support and justify each other.
Reforms under construction
The most alarming and objective differences between the sensus Ecclesiae confessed by Bergoglio Pope and certain operational dynamics implemented in his name is felt in the open yard of the reforms. Here, objectives and paths outlined so far that seem to origin from and led by the very nature of the Church and its pertaining action, sometimes appear modeled on parameters of efficiency and "success" more typical of business companies dictating the pace of Western globalization. While the Pope looks to a “spreading” Church that lives in every diocese and in every parish of the world, locally nurtured by the Eucharist, the Roman dicasteries, instead of pursuing a slimming of "substance", are actually merging with a logic that will surely lead in time to a staff reduction, but in the meantime are outlined as super-ministries of "greater importance" (speech to the Curia, December 22, 2016), as headquarters able to exercise more efficiently certain claims of management on the universal Church, according to the latest standards of business organization models.
Multinational corporations and consulting firms
The Pope nurtures reserves of critical thinking about the financialization mechanisms and global power technocratic tendencies, while the architects of the economic reform made in his name moved early into the patented canons of the neo-capitalist "compassionate " ideology of Anglo-Saxon nature. Efficiency and transparency, investment and capital to be made fruitful in accordance with market rules and obviously " for the good of the poor. " In the controversial initial phase, commissions and instructor bodies who were entrusted with the reform were infiltrated by agents of all corporations and consulting firms that beat the pace of financial globalization in the North Atlantic rail (McKinsey, Promontory, Erns Young, KPMG). All willing to offer "essential" advice to accommodate a modest bank, which should have as its core business current accounts of nuns and missionary institutes, and the closure of some bandwagon from Rome.
The documents managed by committees in that period ended in the Vatileaks2 books. Reports concerning the Vatican process on the responsible for that matter revealed that those who expressed reservations before bishop Vallejo Balda and his team’s modus operandi were branded as "enemies of Pope Francis’ reform". Four years later, the administrative economic reform of the Vatican, the first to take the start, continues to undergo adjustments and course corrections. And it took time and effort to straighten the misguided direction that the entire "reformer" mechanism had embarked at the beginning involving everything, in the wake of a rhetoric emphasis. Ever since Pope Francis has been recalling insistently the priests to the paternal aspect of their vocation and of their pastoral ministry, the front stage of the official clergy has never seemed so full of "manager" monsignors, bishops and cardinals. The more Francis repeats that the Church is first made of lay men and women, the more happens that the clergy - perhaps in purple headband - have a monopoly on leadership roles and functions which do not necessarily require the sacrament order.
Vatican Radio's case
The last difference between the ways suggested by Pope Francis’ preaching and the paths taken by the reforms is what happened to Vatican Radio, the initial dismantling of a capillary network of free information, including its audience rates and advertising ties; a reliable source of news on the Pope, the Church and world events, with an international work team. A precious and vital asset to be enhanced even with the constantly advocated necessary rationalization and structure reorganization. For decades, the Radio inaugurated by Pius XI and entrusted by the Pope to the Jesuits reached the four corners of the world, telling the stories of the people through the open vision proper to the Christian faith and to the Holy See. Now, with the choices made on the radio as part of the Vatican media reform - as noted by the portal Italradio - "it seems inevitable that the changes underway are destined to leave many without the voice of Vatican Radio." And this – Italradio continues - appears in dramatic contradiction with the values that Vatican Radio has always embodied. From the very first day of its establishment, it has always been one of the means by which the Church reaches the last ones, those suburbs so cherished by Pope Francis. The radio was the very symbol of the universality of the message it conveyed. Today, this universality is undermined, because today’s perception of Vatican's communication is that it focuses more on technology rather than its users and that it speaks only to those who can and want to use new media, while the traditional listeners are treated as an annoying and expensive burden to be get rid of as soon as possible. " While the porteño Pope is freeing the Catholic Church from all exclusive and forced identification with the most advanced West, media strategies built around him flatten on identification with social networks and Western-directed mechanisms of search engines. The Holy See (Secretariat of State) on February 22 announced that a specialized corporation will control the use of the ‘' Pope’s image" and that ‘appropriate measures' will be taken in the event of abuse. Just as large companies do to protect their brands. And while the Vatican See has announced an agreement with Facebook to spread messages of the Pope via smartphone in 44 African countries, last week the Secam, a representative body of all African bishops, has revealed the letter sent to the Vatican asking to restore the short-wave service of Vatican Radio, which had recently been interrupted in Africa within the framework of the reform.