Despite all the noise surrounding Pope Benedict’s resignation, we will doubtless see the same arcane processes in the choosing of the next Pope, highlighting all the inadequacies of the Catholic brand at a time when it is weaker than ever. Betting websites are already placing odds on who the next Pope is going to be, and the secretive internal processes framed by smoke signals will only intensify the media focus on all the negatives.
It is curious that religious figures are not doing more to embrace the popular media, crafting a popular character to lead the church into the 21st century. Pope John Paul II was always going to be a difficult media act to follow but Benedict’s resignation still comes as a surprise. Pope Benedict’s abdication provides a mixed opportunity to reinvigorate Catholic communications and to create a stronger figurehead.