“Nobody needs to coach the Pope,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan at a media launch event last night, “he’s a natural.”
Asked to speak on Pope Francis and what makes him so popular, the Cardinal homed in on the Pope’s style and substance.
“I live on Madison Avenue,” said Dolan. “That means PR; that means marketing. Madison avenue is almost a synonym for advertising.”
“So many people come up to me and ask me: ‘Who is doing the Pope’s marketing? Who is coaching this guy? Who is choreographing him? Who is setting this all up?'”
“And I tell them, ‘Nobody.’ He’s the essence of simplicity and sincerity. He’s not a captive to protocol. He’s his own man,” said Dolan.
And that goes a long way to explain the Francis Factor, the Cardinal explained.
“No one needs to tell the Pope the day after he’s elected that he needs to go pay his hotel bill,” Dolan continued. “This is something that a courteous, thoughtful, responsible human being does.”
“Nobody needs to tell him the day after Ash Wednesday that it might me a good idea to get in line for confession, telling him it would be a great photo op. He does it because he wants to do it. It’s sincerity,” Dolan said.
According to Dolan, the “Francis factor” has inaugurated an era of good feeling toward religion. “People like him, they love him, they are fascinated with him, intrigued with him,” he said. “People are beginning to get interested in religion.”
The cardinal noted that this new interest in religion “is particularly providential at a time when religion is caricatured as a source of dishonesty, duplicity, violence, hatred, divisiveness, anger, bigotry, superstition–the caricature of religion in enlightened societies.”
“And look at our newspapers,” he said, that portray “religion as the cause of so much strife and violence in the world today.”
Dolan said that one of the keys to Francis’ success is that he does not lead with the chin, or even with the mouth. He leads with the heart.
Instead of starting out with doctrine and morals, the Cardinal said, “he starts with a person. Jesus.”
“Francis wants to return the church to the shores of Galilee,” he said.