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The Papal Yardstick


Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. – Pope Francis to US Congress

After a historic visit from pope 4the Holy Father to the United States, hopefully his words and example are resonating with everyone. The Pontiff drew crowds of millions in Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia. For those of us living in New York, yes there were major street closures and the visit made moving around some streets physically impossible. But even for those of us who did not get a chance to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis, there was a peaceful calm in New York that we haven’t experienced for a while. No matter your faith, you could feel His spirit everywhere. Where we got stuck in crowds, no one was huffing, puffing, pushing or shoving for a change. And 14 years after 9/11 the Pontiff brought even more unity and healing to a city that oddly comes to life in the fall, when things in nature are beginning to die – but has been under the haze of tragedy we will never be able to forget, especially when September rolls around.

Between deadlines, I had the opportunity to be blessed as the Shadow of Peter moved past crowds of more than 80,000 in Central Park. It’s a rush and a feeling none of us will soon forget.  


The Holy See’s visit hopefully gives us the vision of thinking of Autumn in a different way. The leaves may be falling, it may be getting colder but it is all part of a cycle of things starting anew. Let’s hope the “Francis Effect” carries through in all we do in the days and months ahead.

And because this is a post shared with a PR firm’s blog… few words on that:

A lot has been said about Pope Francis and how masterful he’s been with public relations. Indeed the Pope is masterful in his message and his actions. But the fact that there is a “Francis Effect” has less to do with BLAST PR’s catchy memes directed at millennials (though brilliant) or Greg Burke (who is indeed a really smart person and has served expertly in his role as Senior Adviser for Communications to The Vatican) and a whole lot more to do with the fact that Pope Francis – in gritty terms is one heck of a client. It’s not something you can really discuss without taking faith or religion out of it. And in the hundreds of hours of live and taped coverage on tpope 3he Pontiff’s visit to the United States you’d be hard-pressed to find a single journalist who could take religion out of it. When it comes down to it God is working for everyone on the planet whether we are non-believers or not –as the Pope so aptly reminded us at the end of every one of his addresses and Homilies. God is working for us to show us love is what’s important and He is waiting for us to receive that message. When you are acting as the voice of God on earth… you have to be a good client and through actions and not just ceremony, you have to demonstrate what that means — by blessing as many as possible even while rolling through town in a Fiat, embracing the ignored and objectified, kissing babies, hugging the elderly, demonstrating how special the world can be through inclusivity instead of #squadgoals and separation, having the soft hands of the redeemed lay on inmates in need of redemption… all of these things make the Pope the best client ever because he has work to do for all of us. He, like Mother Teresa and so many religious figures are reluctant for the spotlight. It’s not about being center stage. However they also have a message to share, and like Mother Teresa there is an openness to all of that masses can appreciate in a time of division, exclusivity, social and political vitriol.

Reluctance for recognition brings a few words on social media – another tool The Vatican and external firms have been strong at using. The Vatican has figured out a way to engage on social media without overuse or falling into the pitfalls of what can come with social media abuse. It’s another area for learning. @Pontifex has a place on Twitter and the little known (or not as widely known) @newsva, the official Vatican Network Instagram account. There is not Facebook, no Snapchat (wouldn’t that be something?)… and there is a reason for that. It gets to the point there is a purpose for sharing and communicating critical information on social media, along with messages that will inspire or motivate. Perhaps that’s how more brands and individuals utilizing these networks should be thinking in lieu of humble and not so humble brags, trolling, liking and disliking, and wasting valuable time monitoring privacy protections and how many likes or friends we have. Social media has a purpose but perhaps we should pay attention to what Pope Francis has to say about using it with caution. Is it creeping into a need to constantly seek recognition? Or are messages being communicated with a purpose? Definitely something to reflect on – or maybe even pray!

–Kafi Drexel

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