Dolan: Pope Francis Has 'Shattered The Caricature Of The Church'

Dolan said that Catholic leaders were surprised by how effective Pope Francis has been at improving the image of the church.

“What we were after was a good pastor with a track record of solid administration but fatherly warm, tender care for the sheep, for his people,” Dolan said. “And, boy, we got that on steroids with Pope Francis. He’s the world’s parish priest.”

“Dolan said that Catholic leaders were surprised by how effective Pope Francis has been at improving the image of the church”.

                                 I think that's a rather debatable point.

What about it, specifically, is debatable? The surprise or that Pope Francis has been effective in improving the image of the Church?

He’s made everyone up their game…

Pope Francis has definitely made many take a closer look at the Church, the Bishops, and ourselves.

Pope Francis’ public image reminds me of many Jesuit parish priest’s I had when I was a boy in South Florida. In those days the whole State of Florida was considered Mission Territory. There was only one Diocese, its seat was in St. Augustine, and it was established by the Spanish explorers in the 1500’s.

Pope Francis’ persona has caused protestants to ask me about the Church. This has surprised me gladly!

I agree.

Indeed, the word “improving” may or not be accurate. “Changing” the image of the church is of a more pastoral nature. The Church’s nature can not be changed. “Improved” is so subjective a word and can be taken in both the affirmative and negative. Unfortunately “improved” is also not defined and cannot be understood in a firm position either way…

Maybe among folks of good will who hadn’t known much about the Church before. OTOH, there are many in positions of power who get good mileage out of that caricature. We’ll see.

I think he’s provided very good optics to the un catechized who don’t understand the Church or worse, hate what they THINK is the Church. I think he’s very cagey in that he speaks the Truth but in a way that confuses the ignorant media into thinking he’s OK with abortion or gay marriage or any one of a number of Leftist causes. I do enjoy that self congratulating among those who have zero understanding of the Church’s teaching on the hot button issues and thus think that he’s opening up the Church to consider womyn priestesses or supporting homosexual activity.

As a raging capitalist I’ve heard much criticism of his negative comments regarding the market economy but of course if you read what he actually said, he posited a completely unrealistic premise, using words like “invariably” which allow him to criticize greed, avarice and the using of human beings while not demonizing initiative, hard work, and financial success.

Much as I LOVED Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, I realize that his amazing intellect and history as a defender of the faith (remember the God’s Rottweiler meme?) prevented many from actually reading his works or listening to what he said. He was simply not as outgoing as is Pope Francis and at least Americans value that quality above many others.

I am a complete and total admirer of the Holy Father and love the way he challenges us all


I agree with that. I think everyone is realizing that humility and charity displayed thusfar by Pope Francis can have profound impacts on Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Cardinal Dolan is speaking of the public reputation of the church in the general public, not it’s reputation among dittoheads. Surely you can’t deny that dissenting catholics and their willing accomplices in media have spent many years constructing a public image of church leadership of being scowling old men eager to say “NO” to any open ended question asked, probably with a healthy dose of “And get off my lawn” thrown in for good measure.

One simply can’t deny that Pope Francis has been a genius at exposing the absurdity of that caricature.

But the argument isn’t whether the “mean old man” caricature has been shattered, it certainly has. The argument is whether the image of the Church has been improved. In my opinion it certainly has not, because the “mean old man” caricature has been replaced with the “ultra-liberal Francis, abortion, homosexuality and women priests are ok now” caricature. This new caricature is not an improvement on the old, it is far more damaging to the Church than the old one was.

It’s not like the secular media and secular society just woke up one morning and decided to reverse their anti-Church stance. They just found a new anti-Church caricature that they can exploit even more than the old one.

If you’re right then “they” are playing a dangerous game. It can only work if Francis dies before his track record speaks for itself. Unlike council documents which can be left unread and a fictitious “spirit” of said council invented, Francis speaks for himself (and often). If you’re right, then the conspirators are digging undermining their own positions. By predisposing people to actually LISTEN to what the pope says, people may end up actually DOING it. I don’t think Francis is dumb enough to be manipulated and handled by media on a sustained basis. Most lies collapse of their own weight eventually.

Well, that’s true, it certainly could backfire in the right circumstances (and I hope it does). I just think it would take Francis doing something fairly “dramatic” for the media to turn on him, or admit they were “wrong” about him, and I don’t think he’ll do anything dramatic enough to make that happen.

But who knows, maybe over time it will happen like you’re saying, I hope so.

The Catholic Church is not a party, it does not have to be concerned how its perceived when giving the truth and offering its mercy.

God bless Bishop Dolan, but it is irksome to hear prelates talk as if we need ‘Better PR’ that is not the way of St. Paul or the early Church, we don’t have to seek to be favored, if you know Christ, you don’t expect to be loved, by the world. It will never happen, I don’t know why they are pushing the narrative that Pope Francis is the first to not get publicly received with scorn when he is a pastor – it’s like all of a sudden they forgot Pope John Paul II had a pretty good image among the public, for a while.

Pope Benedict was the one who was not spared public disdain immediately, and for whatever reason by the grace of God, that was his lot.

This presumption that because Pope Francis is popular in media perception, what does that have to ultimately do with his efficacy? if it is short lived praise with no true conversion? Many Democrats still want him to change Church doctrine on abortion and homosexuality, so I do not know why prelates in the media act as if this is a new spring time, knowing full well, with the Faith, being a member of Christ’s body, no member, is greater than his master. Christ did not come to be praised by men, not to have his image LOVED in those three years. This idea that the conversion depends on the Vicar of Christ’s public image is also farcical, because conversion depends on a one and one basis, who cares if the world perceives us as mean – they might not have been won over anyway with the hardness of hearts.
No, It depends on the man or woman on the street, who is Catholic and how he is perceived in his treatment of his neighbors. Not how if the media says good or bad things about the current pontiff in this year or that year.

How is this not easy to understand???

So all this talk about Improving our Image among the world, is a poor choice of words, and speaks volumes of one’s mentality of what is necessary for evangelization. The bishop has made these media mistakes before, playing into the narrative and he insulted the previous Pontiffs, and rewrote history about Pope John Paul II, who was also the world’s pastor.

They’ll turn on Pope Francis the way many in Jerusalem did on Christ a week after Palm Sunday.

If the Church was perceived as “mean” that is not the fault of Pope Benedict who merely spoke the truth…so why even give that caricature legitimacy as if it’s the fault of previous pontiffs. It’s irritating.

If anything as others mentioned above, they created the alternate more deceptive caricature,

The Christ with no Cross. The Christ who is indifferent to mortal sins.

What Francis pontificate is doing to both those in the Church and outside the Church is allowing them to be accountable for their irreverence for God.

Both the media who treat the Papacy as another media manipulation and ploy, understanding there is significance and influence there yet will be dumbfounded to tell you why (with no faith and little reflection on the Holy Catholic Church’s role on Earth )

and those who have lost their supernatural protection of faith, in merely looking at the observable in the person of Pope Francis (both the liberals who like to exploit the false Christ and certain traditionalist minded people who want to always monitor the Pope’s words)

do not realize,

is it doesn’t matter if Francis is sly as a fox or is an intellectual dwarf, because he wields legitimate authority of Christ as his only Vicar, and Christ is close by and has not left us orphans.
Anyone who tries to play games with that (as we see those in the media do), forgets about Christ or does not trust in him.


Sorry I don’t have time right now to read through the various comments, but I did want to respond to the initial thread comment. Pope Francis is doing a wonderful job at spreading the Good News. Part of his job, actually part of our jobs as Catholics, is to show through our actions and with our words, the love of Christ. We are called to be Christ’s PR machine and our pope is doing a great job. How many times have we heard our non-Catholic friends tell us how much they admire Pope Francis? I’ve heard it quite often.

We’ve had an image problem for a while, especially after it was revealed that Catholic priests had raped so many children. Month after month, year after year, allegation after allegation made the headlines including information that archdioceses had moved predator priests from parish to parish. More credible victims came forward just this year. When will this end? I remember being part of a discussion where we talked about how we, as parishioners, were unknowingly complicit in the crimes because we bank rolled these priests and the archdioceses. Faith in the establishment, not in God and Jesus, but in the Catholic Church, was crushed for so many. And my non-catholics friends, well, they knew our church had been knocked down a few pegs. Because of the large number of victims and priests involved in the scandal and because it was a multinational problem, non-catholics knew that we could no longer consider ourselves the ethical and moral center of the Christian world. Pope Benedict tried to clean up our mess as he begged for forgiveness and offered avenues for healing. Now Pope Francis is fixing our damaged image by focusing on our true mission, to care for others and to proclaim the love and salvation of Christ through our words and deeds.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit