Thursday, March 07, 2013

Silver Laden Mules



In the good old days you knew who would be Pope by the amount of silver carried by the mules in the baggage trains of the Cardinal Electors, or by which European armies where massing outside of the city where the election was to take place. I suspect chestnuts are now considered as bad form as "nephews" and "neices" at post election parties. O tempora o mores!

Journalists have given us an almost blow by blow account of the inner workings of the 2005 Conclave, perhaps it began by that interview in which a certain Cardinal immediately afterwards told the world "they elected" Benedict. How wise of Benedict to restore excommunication as the penalty for breaking the silence of the Conclave.
Now the US Cardinals have been advised to stop their daily press conference, and the Brazilians have earnt a certain displeasure by encouraging the supporters of Odilo Scherer to push his name forward amongst journalist. The Germans have been pushing their Liberal credentials by allowing the "morning after pill" just after the announcement of Pope Benedict's resignation, and then of course there are those Turkson posters that have appeared around Rome, then of course there is the Tagle video, such an unfortunate choice of song.
I had the distinct feeling that the American Cardinals were electioneering, perhaps most of these things are beyond the individual Cardinal's control but we seem to be getting to a position where it is becoming a little unseemly. Without the sobering atmosphere of the death of a Pope there is a certain sense of carnival about the forthcoming election.
Journalists might have taken the place of silver laden mules, and appaerances on televion the place of the actual silver. It is quietly likely those most vaunted by the press might well prove to be at a dissadvantage on the premise of "enter the Conclave a Pope and leave a cardinal".
Now the 115th elector has arrive, isn't time their Emminences shut up, started praying and fond a new Pope, I wish they would take the more talkative octogenarians with them, at least the one's who haven't learnt from the Pope Emeritus to go into a life of silent seclusion.


20 comments:

Matthew Roth said...

I disagree on the Americans. They were merely giving their observations about the state of affairs in the Church, and it was a good opportunity to engage the world. The Brazilians were campaigning though, and should be soundly berated.

NBW said...

Not to mention Cardinals using Twitter. Cardinal Mahony is tweeting about setting the date for the conclave. Is this allowed ?

Physiocrat said...

Wanting the job of pope should be a immediate reason for disqualification, together with allowing a poster of oneself to be displayed.

gemoftheocean said...

Mahoney shouldn't be within 8,000 miles of the place.

justin said...

The decision to stop the American cardinals from giving press briefings was woeful and betrays both a pettiness and a clear lack of understanding of public relations control on the part of Sodano and Bertone - no surprise really given their recent failures in this regard.

The American cardinals were a 'good news story' in media-speak. They said all the right things from a Catholic pov, detracted attention away from people like Card. O'Brien, they were charming the media, and really relegated groups like SNAP and We Are Church to non-stories.

The press were fascinated and charmed by the cardinals humility and graciousness, and reuters et al were literally eating out of their hand.

THATS how you "control the story". The Holy Father gave his Roman clergy a very salutory lesson about the Council of the Media. One lesson we could draw from that is - there will always be the media. How can we then exploit the media and use them for our purposes - to promote the Church and to engage the non-committed?? One way we can do that is by giving them a 'story' and here you can even choose the story you want - Card. O'Malley's 'no tolerance for sexual abuse' is one such story. The alternative is to let the media dictate the story - by relying on gossip, and backroom chatter, or even worse by finding your enemies (like SNAP) who are usually more than willing to speak.

Say then you want to withdraw from the public communication (as is only right as the conclave approaches) - the Cardinals should communicate that openly. So in an interview - someone like +Chicago could tell the press - this will be our last press conference. we all know the conclave is approaching, and our consciences call for us to do less talking and more listening to God's will.

The story then becomes - conclave nears. cardinals withdrawing to pray! - rather than - which is what has happened now - Cardinals Censored!!

If Bertone wants any further part in the public life of the Church on a scale such as this - some media management lessons would surely do no harm.

As the Pope has told us, the media exerts a great deal of influence, even in the life of the Church and can do so much damage. Rather than burying our heads in the sand and pretending the media doesn't exist - the new evangelisation has to compel us to actively exploit the media, get them on our side, use them effectively even cunningly.

The innocence of doves should not be incompatible with the wisdom of serpents...



GOR said...

I was disappointed – but not surprised – by the American Cardinals’ alternate press conferences. It just affirms the stigma of American in-your-face brashness. And they toted along their own ‘PR guru’ from the USCCB as well…? What function does she perform and who cares what she has to say? What did they think this was – a party political convention? What next – campaign buttons, banners and noise makers?

Their claim – endorsed by American writers like Allen, Weigel and Palmo – that this was about ‘transparency’ is rubbish. A Conclave by definition is not ‘transparent’ – it is secret and for very good reasons, if they knew their Church history (which at least Dolan should know, seeing that Church History is supposed to be his forte).

I suspect that the unlikely possibility of an American Pope may just have become even more unlikely. However, I do note that one American Cardinal was conspicuous by his absence from this boondoggle – one Leo Raymond Burke.

But that does not surprise me.

JARay said...

Fr. You have written:-
"...at least the one's who have learnt from the Pope Emeritus to go into a life of silent seclusion"
I rather think that you meant to say "the ones who haven't learnt"
We all want to know how things are going and it is very difficult for this to happen when an effective ban is in place. However, we must just be patient and let the proper proceedure take place without the human propensity for politicing. We want the Holy Spirit to get into the hearts and minds of the electors.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I did indeed!

wretchedwithhope said...

justin said: "The story then becomes - conclave nears. cardinals withdrawing to pray! - rather than - which is what has happened now - Cardinals Censored!!" Having no trust whatsoever in satan's pr company, formerly known to the Church as 'the world, the flesh and devil' (now known as 'the brotherhood and sisterhood of man'), I think we'll always get the 'cardinals censored' version anyway.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Father Ray, your link to the Tagle video [http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uO1HKzUsnxc] doesn't work.] Your comment, 'such an unfortunate choice of song', is apt. The day that his appointment to Manila was announced Bishop Tagle went to a convent of the Missionaries of Charity in his diocese and asked if he could celebrate Mass at 6pm. The Sisters were delighted. At the end of the Mass he told them of his appointment, which had been announced in the nunciature in Manila at 6pm. One of the Sisters told me this when I went to the same place some months later to give a retreat.

George said...

Public Relations is "fools gold" for the Church.

Authentic, simple holiness needs no public relations strategy nor tactics.

It's dangerous too. For two reasons. Institutions become obsessed with it. Rather than using it as a tool, the tool starts to use you. You start making institutional decisions based off of PR, not always off of doing what's right. Secondly, leaders start thinking they're good at it. They start to practice their PR skills constantly, rather than simply lead. So men trade in the public respect they would have had if they relied on the simple authenticity and honesty resident within their field, enjoying the natural reverence that is given to serious men doing serious work. They trade it in for the fools gold of PR. And they start looking more like shysters than men of honor.

Lola said...

Oh, my goodness! They could have chosen a better song for the video on Cardinal Tagle. Came across this which appears to be a coverage of his installation in the Philippines. Have we ever had such a joyful reception for any of our Cardinals or have had one so loved?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqEfOSlOjmk

araceli lorayes said...

Maybe the choice of song was unfortunate, but we all make mistakes at one time or another. And look at the positives - brilliant, but holy and humble, a gifted preacher who touches people's hearts, who shares his table with the poor and lowly, not for show, but on a daily basis. And... no child abuse cover-ups, no sex scandals in his diocese!

araceli lorayes said...

Here is the reflection of Cardinal Tagle on the Holy Eucharist delivered at the Eucharistic Congress.

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/address-of-bishop-tagle-on-the-eucharist

justin said...

The then Archbishop Tagle's interview on Salt and Light

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu4ooS5H8sA

Many say he's a liberal etc. He's not - his catechesis videos on Papal Supremacy, and on the Magisterium are very sound actually.

And as can be seen from his interview with Fr Rosica - he's a hermenuetic of continuity guy with regards to V2.

If Tagle's a liberal then the same can be said for the former Holy Father as well.

It's always interesting how people who so willingly berate some of the cardinals for supposed liberalism never actually read what they write, or watch interviews. It's all 'perception' to these people.

On the side of the angels said...

Surely media interaction should come from official & clerical sources? Yes Cardinals should be silent but I'm sick of being 'represented' by self-promoting renegades or ignorant uninformed newbies who were not even practising Catholics at the last conclave. Is it too much to ask that the Church offers its cream or long-experienced and long-serving rather than those who have a personal agenda or proffer their best-guess platitudes when their best answer would be 'I don't know!'?

Physiocrat said...

That music reminds me of YMCA. In fact, I think it actually is YMCA, with different words.

http://youtu.be/CS9OO0S5w2k

John Fisher said...

YES Fr Blake you are right. On some blogs Americans are woffling on about how press conferences= transparency. The whole lobbying, disinformation sincere insincerety that Americans mistake for participation is better saved for Wall Street bankers. The conclave is not a version of that fake tv show called Entainnment Tonight! They seem to want the Church to be a "rooten borough" based upon national church sending national representatives called "our cardinal"!

Latigo Rapper said...

Feel free to search Cardinal Tagle's song by typing the title in Youtube: "CARDINAL TAGLE, OUR NEXT POPE" As the one who made Cardinal Tagle's music video, I understand and respect your view on this matter but I would like to say that I believe my choice of song was not unfortunate. I chose it, the YMCA song, because I believe the liveliness of the tune is reflective of Cardinal Tagle's sunny personality. Further, the lyrics perfectly fits the tune. I am well aware that people are now saying it's a gay song. I didn't know that when i wrote it because the YMCA song does not have a reputation as a gay anthem here in the Philippines. My intention is only to support my favorite Cardinal using my God given talent. Yes, the song is fun, but its purpose is not to make fun. I don't mean to argue, Fr. Blake, I just wish to air my side on this matter. Thank you and God bless us all.

Latigo Rapper said...

Feel free to search Cardinal Tagle's song by typing the title in Youtube: "CARDINAL TAGLE, OUR NEXT POPE" As the one who made Cardinal Tagle's music video, I understand and respect your view on this matter but I would like to say that I believe my choice of song was not unfortunate. I chose it, the YMCA song, because I believe the liveliness of the tune is reflective of Cardinal Tagle's sunny personality. Further, the lyrics perfectly fits the tune. I am well aware that people are now saying it's a gay song. I didn't know that when i wrote it because the YMCA song does not have a reputation as a gay anthem here in the Philippines. My intention is only to support my favorite Cardinal using my God given talent. Yes, the song is fun, but its purpose is not to make fun. I don't mean to argue, Fr. Blake, I just wish to air my side on this matter. Thank you and God bless us all.