The celebrity cult surrounding the Holy Father

I personally struggle with how becoming the whole “cult” surrounding the Pope happens to be (I use the term “cult” in the sense of celebrity cult).

Does the cult surrounding the pope bring people closer to Jesus Christ or detract from that central message?

I happened to be in St. Peter’s Basilica this past Christmas, Easter and Christ’s Ascension (but then outside in St. Peter’s square). I have to say that all the ipad-smartphone-filming plus applause struck me as most unbecoming within a house of God (outside, I guess I can live with it).

To be frank, this experience at Easter struck as so very worldy that - being only a nominal Catholic attending Protestant services - I seriously considered cutting my ties with the Church for good. And so I began a programme of my own of truly understanding Catholicism (which is far from over), so as to at least make an informed decision. Only priestly counsel, delving into Catholic teaching and prayer saved me from this step and led me to re-embrace the Church.

My spiritual advisor suggested, me having also related similar discomfort regarding a visit in Lourdes and a papal mass here in Berlin, that I perhaps just wasn’t the type for these massive events. No doubt he’s on the mark.

Yet I still wonder: Does the whole papal cult go too far? Is it too worldly? Detracting from Jesus Christ?

Am I being too uncharitable towards believers who, after a long wait, built up expectation, finally get to see the Holy Father? And have little means of expressing their appreciation other than by all that hullabaloo - and do so even in church? Am I being a “party pooper” here?

I’m torn on this. What about the Christocentric character of the Church? Hasn’t the rock-star character of the Papacy of recent decades, with all its massive media visibility and undeniable positives, also come at a considerable cost?

If the “rock-star character of the Papacy” gets people to look at Francis, and he in turn gets people to look at Jesus, then I don’t see a problem. Fame’s not inherently a bad thing. It’s all in how you use it :cool:

I think there is one yes. And the potential for one comes with any Pope. We must be very careful though, to not let our reservations about a celebrity cult and irreverance during papal Masses cross over into judgement about the Holy Father himself, since we cannot read his heart. It is entirely possible, for example, and even quite probable, that he does not desire the attention he receives as a person. However, if he does not expressly oppose it, let us not assume he wills it – remember he is an instrument for proclaiming the Gospel message, and the more people that are attentive to what he says and does, means more people that will hear of the good news and the infinite love and mercy of Christ, and witness it lived through the Holy Father. There is no one on this earth that has a greater responsibility and accountability before God than the Holy Father, therefore, we must be gracious of all good example which he gives to the world.

To conclude: Again, I agree with you, – there does appear to be a celebrity cult, or at least, one that is developing. Your post is an opportunity to remind us all to pray for the Holy Father and all our bishops, because a celebrity status is a source of temptation.

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen writes:

"We have the same weaknesses as other men, some to the bottle, or a woman, or a dollar, or a desire to be a little higher in the heirarchy of power.

When one enjoys some popularity in the world, such as the Lord has given me in great measure, one is praised and respected even beyond desserts. As a little boy wrote to me on my eighty-fourth birthday: “I hop you have a happy birthday. I hop you will live long that one day you will be Pop.”

Generally the more we accept popular estimates, the less time we spend on our knees examining conscience…Praise often creates in us a false impression that we deserve it." ( Treasure in Clay)

So – and I say this as someone who has an obsessive habit of worrying, that I am trying to overcome as it has led me to near despair – let us not mull over too much about this celebrity phenomenon. Pray for the Holy Father, that he will use the abundance of attention he receives, to glorify God.

:thumbsup:

:thumbsup:

I believe people like John Corapi was more a “celebrity” than Pope Francis. As the vicar of Christ on earth-people get excited about him. I’d much rather have my kids excited about “Papa” vs bieber and gaga.

Look at how although there’s a “rockstar” feel next week how much it’s out of undying and unflappable love of the pope.

Viva el Papa!

If we talk about touristic places like St Peter’s Square or Lourdes, there are many who take photos and film various ceremonies just as they do in any touristic place, not because they are Pope fanatics.
On the other hand, for some Catholics, buying holy cards with the Pope or taking pictures or filming at St Peter’s Basilica and then posting them on social networks etc. is just an expression of their enthusiasm towards religion and a sign of fidelity towards the Pope. My grandmother used to keep a picture of Pope Paul VI on her bookshelf, even though she wasn’t a great admirer of him.

However, when this enthusiasm turns into a celebrity cult and detracts people from Jesus Christ, the Pope has the duty to react… and he indeed does:
en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/07/11/pope_francis_wants_statue_of_himself_removed_from_buenos_aire/in2-709569

Another example:

Pope Francis said “What is the most important thing? Jesus. If we push ahead with planning and organization, beautiful things indeed, but without Jesus, then we are on the wrong road. Jesus is the most important thing. I would like to take the opportunity now to make a small, but fraternal, reproach, among ourselves, alright? All of you in the square shouted out: "Francis, Francis, Pope Francis " … But, where was Jesus? I want to hear you shout out. “Jesus, Jesus is Lord, and He is in our midst.” From now on, no more “Francis”, only “Jesus”. Alright?

en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/05/19/pentecost_vigil:_the_church_must_bring_jesus_to_a_humanity_in_crisis/en1-693591

All of you in the square shouted out: "Francis, Francis, Pope Francis " … But, where was Jesus? I want to hear you shout out. “Jesus, Jesus is Lord, and He is in our midst.” From now on, no more “Francis”, only “Jesus”. Alright?

What wholesome straight-talk! Thanks for those citations.

Clearly the Holy Father himself considers the papal celebrity cult, as witnessed at his public appearances, a distraction from Jesus Christ.

So I find myself in the best company regarding my discomfort.

If the “rock-star character of the Papacy” gets people to look at Francis, and he in turn gets people to look at Jesus, then I don’t see a problem.

I dare say that in the aftermath of a papal mass there be some lingering effect relating to the Lord. At less for many. But I just don’t get the sense that in the euphoria of a papal mass the people aren’t distracted from God by the celebrity cult. Until “Jesus, Jesus” outweigh the “Francesco, Francesco” shouts, I find it hard to think otherwise.

I hope the Holy Father will push that message home until the entire Catholic world gets it.

We ought to meet the Lord on less circuitous paths. And never forget who’s our Lord.

Let us judge others based on their intentions and ourselves on our actions.

The only thing I say even the Holy Father has told the Crowd when they all shouted Francis, Francis, he shouted back "say Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

You obviously never been to England or should I say London when the Queen comes out of Buckingham Palace as she is Head of the Church of England (Anglican) its exactly like same as St. Peter’s Square the shouting, screaming and thousands of police etc for crowd control view it yourself on U Tube, but either way, is it not best that young people let of steam this way than on drugs or anything else, I am just wondering how old you are, and did you not go down the road of screaming for a Pop group when you were young, its healthy, Christ founded the Catholic Church and if all you have to worry about that small issue your heart wants to get a bit bigger for the truth of the Lord, as Our Lord himself said let the children come to me, we are all children in the Lord.
This is a minor detail, people who are religious always want to be with someone who is holy and in whom they can see Christ in. Don’t put your soul in peril as hell might have more screaming than St. Peter’s Square.:signofcross:

How would you feel if people were touching Pope Francis with handkerchiefs and applying them to people, or laying people along his walkway so that his shadow would pass over them?

The Apostles were treated this way by the people, so it doesn’t seem to me wrong that the Vicar of Christ has an enthusiastic following.

:):):slight_smile:

Actually, this isn’t something new, it happened to Peter and Paul. They got incredible attention wherever they went, some actually worshipped them as gods. People would even bring hankerchiefs to touch Paul with and bring it back to loved ones who were sick to heal them. Talk about a cult following right there! :wink: I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a worldly, secular reaction. Just the normal response of people in the face of greatness or holiness. They see something so attractive about someone that they can’t really explain, and they don’t know how else to show their enthusiasm.

But Paul and Peter, and now Francis, would always turn the attention back to Christ. The way I look at it, attention isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. Just being a joyful, faithful Catholic is going to get you attention automatically these days. We just have to always turn that back to Jesus, and that’s exactly what Francis is trying to do. :thumbsup:

So I wouldn’t be uncomfortable that a man of God is getting attention, its a very good thing. An eighty year old, celibate, religious leader is able to attract more young people together than someone like Justin Beiber, this is great news! That is the power of Christ! The gospel is alive. Only God can do such a thing. :extrahappy: We should rather rejoice and pray for the pope that God can use this attention, attention that Francis doesn’t want, like he used the attention that Peter and Paul got. To lead people closer to himself.

And it’s not a circuitous route, on the contrary, it’s the way God has always worked. He loves to bring people to himself through dirty, broken instruments like you and me.

Edit: I started typing my response before bsroufek had posted, but now I see he said the same thing as me. Sorry about that. :slight_smile:

Well, they’re cheering for her and the whole event is about her. So they’re cheering for the right person. It’s not an analogous situation to a mass where one is supposed to worship the Lord, but cheers for someone else.

As for her being the Head of the Church of England, I trust we can all agree that it’s a very bad idea to have a secular ruler in such a position. Just look at what state Anglicanism is in… Rudderless… Jesus Christ gave us Peter and his successors for a very good reason.

is it not best that young people let of steam this way than on drugs or anything else, I am just wondering how old you are, and did you not go down the road of screaming for a Pop group when you were young, its healthy,

I’m all for spontaneous rejoicing. It’s indeed healthy. I just suggest - much as the Holy Father - they praise the Lord!

Christ founded the Catholic Church and if all you have to worry about that small issue your heart wants to get a bit bigger for the truth of the Lord, as Our Lord himself said let the children come to me, we are all children in the Lord.

Well, I’d say this issue regarding evangelisation carries more weight than various arcane issues the expert apologists are asked.

After all, it was important enough for the Pope to issue a firm albeit gentle reproach.

No more, no less.

Why’d you ask the question if you didn’t want an opinion?

Clearly I don’t have as great a tolerance for such indirect routes as you.

My reembracing of Catholicism is - as said - quite a recent experience and perhaps my attitude is as yet too Evangelical… I’m making progress in seeing how Mary and the Saints lead to Christ, but I’m used to more direct or simpler route-mapping.

I dare say I need to work on that, while I trust in the job of pointing to the Lord being in safe hands with Pope Francis.

Oh, I appreciate opinions. And I’ve now - thanks to this thread - worked out a place I’m more comfortable with.

Since posting what you responded to, I took a step back and considered how my overly adverse reaction is part of a bigger question I’m grappling with, namely that of what place Virgin Mary and the saints have in my spirituality. Still working that through my system.

I, too, have reservations about turning our Popes into “Rock Stars.” Blessed JP II was probably the first to gain this status. It is not the fault of the popes, but rather our secular societies way on building a false relationship with well-known people. Eventually our idols “fall” when they fail to live up to our opinion of who they should be. This happened the Bl. JP II when he began to stress the real and actual teachings of the 2nd Vatican Council. To be sure, Pope Francis will have this “fall” from the “graces” of our secular society when he draws us to the teachings of Jesus and the Church. I remind myself that God wants us to have a deep and personal relationship with the persons of the Holy Trinity. Do the actions and words of Pope Francis (or any person) lead me to Christ? Is Christ the center of Pope Francis’s actions and teachings? Yes to both. Does my obedience to the pope or bishop depend on whether or not he is popular or pleasing to me? No.

The good news is they can take as big or as small a role in your spirituality as you want them to. While being a Catholic means you have to accept certain doctrines regarding them – like that of the Immaculate Conception for example – beyond that nothing is officially required in the way of devotion. :slight_smile:

I’m still in the midst of working out the finer (or perhaps not so fine) points of Marianology. And I suppose I have plenty to learn on how the saints fit into everything as well.

I’m quite a newbie, you see. When I grew up, I hardly received anything worthy of being called catechesis. And as a young adult, I didn’t find any remedy in parishes in my vicinity either. Hence my turn towards evangelical congregations.

Anyway, I have to say that Mary - praying to her - changed me (in terms of my outlook on a key life question). First time I really did turn to her. But I haven’t made such prayers a habit of mine. My prayers throughout the day are just adressed to the Lord, God.

I agree. It is a little strange.

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