I went to a few social gatherings this weekend and was surprised at how often the topic of religion was raised. It wasn’t theology, of course, it was the new Pope. I also heard a long piece on Public Radio where a Priest expressed the view that over 80% of both clergy and lay people are feel relief the old regime is gone and are enthusiastic about the ideas expressed by the new Pope and the personality he projects.
I remember a political pundit reflecting on the years of Ronald Reagan and how popular conservative ideas became while he was President. “It proves,” the pundit wrote, “the best way to sell an idea is to have it wrapped around an attractive personality.” In Pope Francis we are observing that happen again.
To actually wrap ideas around an attrative personality is not easy as most people in politics can tell you. It is not always possible to predict how a new celebrety politican/clergy will look to the public until he/she is out there. The press also writes about people in ways that define, correctly or incorrectly, a personality. The Pope is portrayed as warm, Mitt Romney as cold.
All this shows that what the doctrine of the Catholic Church, or, any other denomination or political party party for that matter, actually is is less important than the personalities of those representing the doctrine. Popular personalities make for popular ideas.
We are all life long students of politics.