Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday appeared before the public for the first time since he announced on Monday that he planned to resign from the papacy—an unprecedented move in modern times.
"Continue to pray for me, for the Church and for the future pope," the 85-year-old Pope Benedict said before his weekly general audience, according to Reuters
Benedict’s resignation shocked the world, including Vatican officials, who aren’t even sure how to proceed, reports Reuters. They have scheduled an enclave for mid-March to replace Benedict.
I served on the media advance team for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Los Angeles and did PR for the world’s largest collection of Vatican art and historical objects.
I’ve learned a lot about popes. I love them. So it’s fascinating to speculate about the Benedict’s resignation. Is PR crisis management under way at the Vatican? It makes sense. After all, the Roman Catholic Church has dealt with a number of crises in the past years: protected child abusers, insulted nuns, claims that condoms cause AIDS. blaming scandals on the press, and so on.
Can the Vatican do more than a resignation to bring the crisis to a faster close? Yes, Here are four more actions to move the compass further in the right direction.
1. Elect a pope with pizzazz.
This one was stilted and lacked people skills—no matter how much he tweeted.
2. Stop blaming media and embrace it.
They’re not using wax tablets or wood anymore in Rome. You cannot hide things in the catacombs and hope no one will see it. Information travels at the speed of light and sound. Be open, truthful, and accessible. Always. Starting now.
3. Fire the ringleaders and send them to jail.
As long as Retired Cardinal Roger Mahoney, who reportedly shielded child abusers
, and his ilk are allowed to elect the next pope
and perform priestly duties, the stain will remain.
4. Rethink the priorities and elect a pope who gets it.
This is 2013, not 200 AD. Women actually have something to say and can lend a hand to the diminishing priesthood.
My holy parents, now long gone, would have freaked out by this mess. Let’s hope that my kids will not have to endure more of the same when I am gone.
Susan M. Tellem, APR, a cradle to grave (well, just not yet) Catholic, is a partner in Tellem Grody Public Relations, Inc. where she leads the crisis team. Follow her on Twitter @susantellem.