Pope Francis has finally visited the U.S.A. Already very public and publicized, Pope Francis generated more excitement and editorial coverage than anyone could have expected. He continued to captivate millions through his authenticity, transparency and poise – oftentimes conveyed through sound bites, quick photos or other impromptu encounters with members of the press.
In the realm of Public and Media Relations activity, this is a leader who’s hard to follow. His pace of communication and natural competency in the field is quite mesmerizing. Through a variety of communications vehicles –letters, homilies, interviews, tweets, videos etc.– Pope Francis is in the news with unparalleled consistency.
As institutions that are already playing ‘catch up ball’ in the realm of Public Relations and Organizational Communications, the Catholic Church in Canada and USA, in particular, are now faced, thanks to Francis, with the need to hyper communicate at a level that would be hard to attain even for a global PR agency. But with or without the help of professional Communications agencies, groups within and outside of the Church – mainly those with a stake in the topics at hand – are responding relatively well in what has become a healthy dose of spiritual conversation in the public square.
Yes – conversations about topics like abortion, marriage, poverty, immigration, religious liberties etc. are a good thing. It’s also good and important that Communications professionals who care about these topics, or who work in fields related to these, sharpen their pencils and increase their investment in best practices to participate fully and professionally in these very public conversations. At the end of the day, it’s their time to shine; to edify all of us with fact, insight and argument all the while respecting our rights to listen, exercise our own conscience and to reflect on a proper understanding of what is good for us; what is good for others.
I’m fully aware of the power of faith and the power of ethical Public Relations. I think this whole exercise in greater communication for the Catholic Church in Canada, especially if it’s driven by a greater sense of Public Relations theory, Grunig-style, will bear much fruit. I wish it too for Islam and other major religions of the world. We need more of this in countries ripped apart by war, self-absorption and broken governments. Through dialogue we can learn from each other. With the added elements of reflection and an open heart, we can grow personally and allow our own consciences to evolve and empathize with others.
Perhaps this is a part of the Francis effect in our world. It’s certainly one of the many fruits of his first trip to U.S.A.
Note: Excerpts and other videos from Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba and U.S.A. online athttp://saltandlighttv.org/apostolicvisit/