Pope Francis the comms genius

So far, everything that Pope Francis did in the Philippines was dramatic. Not madrama — as in the negative, theatrical type — but one wherein all of us are caught up in spontaneous awe, admiration, and astonishment. Recall the humor in his homily at the Manila Cathedral; the heartwarming scene at the orphanage; his heroic forbearance over our president’s whiny speech.

But his Tacloban visit was beyond dramatic and beyond symbolic: He was actually there in the wind and rain! If typhoon Yolanda’s strength had been off the scales, so was Pope Francis’ determination to be with the typhoon victims. I mean, the ongoing tropical storm Amang is serious! The skidding of the government officials’ plane demonstrated the potential danger the Pope faced.

And the Holy Father’s loss for words during his off-the-cuff homily — “So many of you have lost everything. I don’t know what to say to you. But the Lord does know what to say to you.” This to me is his most eloquent line so far. Because, really, in tragedies, silent presence is more powerful and comforting than words.

Taclobanons wait for Pope Francis amid rain and wind. (Screengrab from Rappler. Photo by Dennis Sabangan/EPA)
Taclobanons wait for Pope Francis amid rain and wind. (Screengrab from Rappler. Photo by Dennis Sabangan/EPA)

All this leads me to cement my conclusion that Pope Francis is a communications genius, whose goals heaven is all too earth-bent to grant. The Holy Father intends to do something, he does it, and he gets what he wants (with rain allowed by God, for effect). The words (or lack thereof), the gestures, the facial expression, the overall aura, lahat perfect! You can sense God wanting to draw us to Himself through the Pope.

And I’m not a fan of protocol-breaking, but it seems like the Holy Father always gets lucky — or, rather, hashtag #blessed. When he does his activities, he deviates a bit from the plan, and still all ends well. He has the heftiest grace of state, after all.

Featured image by Johannes Eisele / AP