I can’t get enough of the new pope, and apparently I’m not alone. Google “pope-francis” and you get 656 million results about someone who has been going by that name for just a few weeks. And whether or not Pope Francis is able to take the Catholic Church in a new direction, he’s already demonstrating how a damaged brand can be protected — even enhanced — by focusing attention on initiatives that counter objections to the brand in new ways.
The Catholic Church’s problems are well-chronicled, led by the painful clergy-sex scandal, its lingering effects, and more recently the tales of stolen records and Vatican misconduct. But these days, the Church’s problems are mentioned only in passing, as in this story from Reuters:
The 76-year-old former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina has inherited a Vatican rocked by a scandal in which documents leaked to the media spoke of alleged corruption in its administration and depicted prelates as fighting among themselves to advance their careers.
But that’s the fourth paragraph of a story that focuses instead on something new. Here’s the lead:
Beginning a busy program of Easter events, Pope Francis on Thursday urged Catholic priests to devote themselves to helping the poor and suffering instead of worrying about careers as Church “managers.”
That’s just marketing manna from heaven: The pope is busy. He’s telling priests to help the poor and suffering. (Who can be against that?) And he’s telling priests to get out there and help people instead of sitting around in “introspection,” which is a nice word for squabbling.