Vatican Misses Opportunity to Announce Pope's Resignation
For just the second time in the last 600 years a sitting pope has resigned, yet the Vatican’s PR staff was practicing PR tactics from the year 1412 in terms of communicating that news to the more than 1 billion Roman Catholics worldwide.
This morning in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI told a gathering of cardinals that his health was failing and therefore preventing him from adequately exercising the duties of the pope and serving practicing Roman Catholics throughout the world.
The announcement immediately turned to wild speculation about the pope’s health and how the Catholic Church would move forward in the wake of this upheaval. But it didn’t have to be that way. The Vatican PR Machine could have used Sunday, the day of worship when most Catholics attend Mass, to release the news and more thoroughly lay out its course of action for filling the vacant papacy.
If PR is about effectively communicating a tailored message to a targeted audience, wouldn’t a prepared statement by the pope, read aloud from the altar by the priest administering Sunday Mass be the most effective and efficient way to present that message?
With all Catholics receiving the same message on roughly the same day, the Vatican could have spared itself the media scrutiny, questions about an uncertain future and tainted past and presented a fortified communication to its followers about the pope’s desire to exit the papal thrown because he is unable to lead the Church to his specifications, as well as deflect any ambiguity about future leadership and doctrine.
What are your thoughts on this topic?