Cardinal George Pell of Sydney has said that Pope Francis’s popularity with the media is “too good to last”.
The cardinal, a member of the powerful Group of Eight cardinals appointed to advise Francis, made the remark in a reflection on World Youth Day in Rio. His comment followed the Pope being called “awesome” by the men’s magazine Esquire and his face appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair and Time magazine.
Considering the success of World Youth Day, Cardinal Pell said: “Pope Francis’s reception in the secular press is too good to last, but he has cemented his place in the hearts of young Catholics.”
The cardinal also wondered about the presence of surfers at the Pope’s final Mass in Rio.
He said: “The final Mass was a triumph of prayer and worship. Perhaps 50 or 100 continued their surfing, but I am not sure whether this was a small protest or evidence of religious indifference. Pope Francis made his usual three points in the sermon. The young were urged not to spend their lives as spectators on the balcony as the struggle between good and evil, faith and fear, passes below.”
In an interview with The Catholic Herald in May the cardinal said he would be recommending to Pope Francis an overhaul of Vatican communications. “The Vatican has made giant strides in communications,” he said. “I would like to see that continue and develop.”
He added: “The whole gamut, Vatican Radio, the internet, the Osservatore – every instrument that is used to communicate the Church which is based in the Vatican should be developed further.”
He also said he was not sure Vatican Radio “needs to be quite so expensive”.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Catholic Herald, dated 8/8/13