The "mass appeal" of Pope Francis was on clear view as he celebrated Easter at the Vatican this morning. Popular as he is, he is still just one man, and the church he leads is large and complex. Mark Phillips reports from Rome:

It's not too much of a leap of faith to think of the Catholic Church over the past few decades as a big multi-national corporation in trouble -- its product no longer selling like it once did, its reputation tainted by the whiff of corruption and scandal.

It did, after all, do what big businesses in trouble do: Its CEO announced he was retiring.

Its board of directors was called in to appoint new management, to try to restore the appeal of its products -- to re-launch Brand Vatican.

And Pope Francis is its face. In just over a year since the election of this outsider from Argentina, who was given a papal mitre and a figurative broom to sweep out the ecclesiastical cobwebs, the Catholic Church is a place transformed.

"The change in the image of the papacy and the Vatican throughout the world" in one year, said Father Robert Dodaro, who teaches early Catholic philosophy at Rome's Pontifical Lateran University, "is nothing short of remarkable."

But a church riven by internal conflict and laboring under the shame of its priestly child-abuse scandal -- which Pope Francis again addressed earlier this month -- is still waiting to see what substantive changes this "Pope of the People" might bring.

"So the question comes up then: what's changed really?" asked Phillips.

"Nothing," Father Dodaro replied, "unless you think style is a lot more important than content -- and a lot of people do."

Read the rest here.


You heard the man.  "Nothing" ... no substantive change, certainly not in the first year of Francis' papacy, and it's entirely possible that there will be little of significance in the years that follow.  What we have here is a change in approach, as was stated in the piece.  The problem is that approach or attitude is superficial.  It fails to deal with the core problems the RC church has had and continues to have under the current pontiff.  In a way, this is not surprising at all, as the tactic of changing attitude while remaining unchanged as regards the doctrines of the church is something Timothy Cardinal Dolan has been doing for years and continues to do today as the Archbishop of New York.

The question is far less how much change Jorje Bergoglio can bring as what he WANTS or INTENDS to bring.  Thus far, he's eschewed much of the pomp and ceremony of his new office, made some nice pronouncements about the poor and suspended German Bishop Franz Peter Tebartz-van Elst, a.k.a. the "bishop of bling," but in the overall scheme of things, these actions are as superficial as the glad-handing Cardinal Dolan is too well known for.  There remain issues of both corruption and scandal in the Vatican which clamor for attention and correction ... and have been going on for decades without meaningful action taken on any of them.  The popularity of this new pope has already served to distract at least some from these issues, and while he has actually spoken out about the child abuse scandal, Francis has yet to take so much as one positive action to ameliorate that long-standing travesty.  Whether that's the way Francis and/or the Vatican really want it is yet to be seen, but for now:

Meet the new boss,
Same as the old boss.

--The Who, "Don't Get Fooled Again"

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Loren, you state it well, Pope Francis the Great Distracter! 

From Thomas Jefferson, who said so much that both Dems and Repubs borrow:

Confidence (in a leader) is the first step to despotism.




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