Pope Benedict XVI as a communicator

Yes, he is infallible in regards to communicating religious doctrine per the dictums of the Catholic Church, but on a purely public level, as a major world figure who by the very nature of the role spends much of his time communicating ideas I assume he expects will  have some  impact, by all reports, including one issued by the AP today, he is without question having some communication problems. http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/112288/group/home/

This may be largely irrelevant to the faithful, but it is fair to assess the record of public figures including the Pope in this regard, strictly from the context of world culture if nothing else. So here goes.

We have a number of controversies that the papacy has encountered, one of which has been documented in a previous post (see sidebar tags). We have an approach to the media which by all accounts can be characterized as aloof at best, and this runs counter to his predecessor Pope John Paul II, to whom the title of “Great Communicator” has been attached by many.

All of this in spite of some obvious efforts to connect in a 21st century communications “style” including going on YouTube, and Chinese translations of his speeches carried on the Vatican web site.

With his up-coming first time trip to Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories in May, his communication skills will be stringently tested.

The Rev. Thomas Reese of the Woodstock Theological Center has been quoted as saying that as a church and world leader, the pope has to communicate in an understandable and persuasive way. I agree.


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Vatican gets prodded into New Media age

An interesting piece in the traditional media – namely the New York Times – appeared today: Rachel Donadio’s aptly titled article, “Pope Admits Online News Can Provide Infallible Aid”. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/13/world/europe/13pope.html?_r=1 

The report contains quotes from the Vatican’s letter regarding the very controversial matter of the decision to revoke the excommunication of four bishops, including this excerpt:

“I have been told that consulting the information available on the Internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on,” Benedict wrote. “I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news.”



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