Holy See-Span Could Benefit Church
The Vatican is moving into lockdown as 115 cardinals get ready to cast votes for the next pope starting Tuesday. For several days in preparation, Catholic Church leaders have held closed-door gatherings to offer thoughts on the state of the Church and where it’s heading.
Why the complete secrecy? Some hailed Pope Benedict stepping down voluntarily as bringing an element of egalitarianism to the top rung of the Church. Why not continue in that vein and use the papal election as a springboard for some demystification?
The Vatican would never go for a version of C-Span – Holy See-Span -- broadcasting the voting process live. Church leaders would not accept tweeting instant results after each round of voting from inside the Sistine Chapel.
Makes sense. Traditions are an important part of the Church – the white smoke rising is one of the greatest around.
But traditions don’t have to be broken -- they can be cracked. And, this would seem to be an opportune time for the Vatican to use the multi-media world to bring people closer to the Church.
It’s hard to dispute that the Vatican could benefit from some transparency in the wake of alleged corruption at top levels and the sex abuse scandals.
According to CBS News, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said this week on his radio broadcast: “How flattering that thousands and thousands of journalists are now in Rome to cover this. The interest that the Church generates in the world, we need to capitalize on it, don't we?"
And that’s where a Holy See-Span -- which would provide coverage available to CNN, the BBC and all comers -- could be used effectively. Great television – and PR – could come from taking the veil off some of the debate among the cardinals before the doors are locked or even briefly after they are.
Hearing cardinals speak about past wrongs and how those should shape the picking of the next pope could be inspiring. Listening to them condemn corruption and remind each other what the true role of the Church should be would be uplifting.
Giving people a greater sense who the cardinals are – many of them have stirring backgrounds – would be fascinating. Yes, allowing people to know them too well might make the Church fear people would criticize the eventual outcome of the vote.
But, if the best asset of the Church is its people, providing more insight into who the leaders are and what they’re doing around the world would seem to be a wise approach.
None of the papal selection process will be made public this time. But the Church might reconsider. Guaranteed is its audience would be bigger than if every pew were filled on Easter Sunday.