To say there’s a disconnect between the hyperbolic fanfare surrounding Pope Francis in the U.S. and the expressed ethos of the man himself would be an understatement. Certain segments of the press and public have clearly decided the pope is going to be their celebrity whether he likes it or not. (He doesn’t like it.)
It was a given that he would receive a dignitary’s welcome, and of course, many of the faithful would flock to see him. Understood. But… the media coverage quickly took on a very messiah-meets-Bieber fever’ish tone. CNN even dubbed him the “new Mandela,” but the over-the-top fanfare is looking more like the new MJ, circa ’84.
To be clear, I understand the broader historical and religious context of his visit to the United States being a big deal. I get it. But, the coverage morphing from serious to celebrity does more to whip up fair-weather fans of the man (Pope Francis) himself than it does to inspire followers of the faith he’s trying to represent and share with the world. Yes, he is a man of science, but saying “God is not a magician” doesn’t negate his belief that God is responsible for the Big Bang and evolution.
He’s being ‘Brianized’–Ok, I made up that word, but go with it–in memes of cherry picked progressive secular-friendly views, but what happens to those secular viewers’ admiration when he expresses scriptural views that run afoul of their secular sensibilities?
Not saying that his secular appeal is inherently vapid, just pointing out the irony of superstar status being bestowed upon such a pope who literally vowed to be nothing of a sort. Watching some of the media coverage of his trip felt like watching Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian.’ (Hence, ‘Brianized.’)
Pope Francis is a Jesuit, an order of priests also known as The Society of Jesus. I would hope that when presuming to honor him, America would remember that he professes to be a follower of Jesus, not Jesus Himself. I don’t see him having an “Ok, I AM the messiah!” moment and telling his newfangled faction of fair-weather fickle flock to “F*ck off!” But… I can’t say I’d blame him if he did. #dontBSyourself