Catholic Church

Pope Francis and Issues Management

Okay, I was just kidding about applying for the job of Pope. But I would like to apply for the job of issues manager, which is a position Pope Francis should create right away.

The former Argentine cardinal of Italian descent has created an appealing first impression with both Catholics and non-Catholics. But that won't shield him from enormous challenges ranging from sexual abuse to financial mismanagement to eroding congregations in Western Europe to restive congregations in the United States.

The conclave of cardinals that chose Pope Francis are banking on the evangelical zeal stirred by the first Vicar of Christ from the Americas and the Global South, which are now the bedrock of the Catholic Church. However, evangelism isn't the answer to the Church's problems any more than talking louder is the way to silence critics.

Pope Benedict XVI made headlines by tweeting on an iPad. But using social media is a tactic, not a strategy.

Pope Francis faces a sea of people, both in and out of his religious flock, who are more cynical and distrustful. His challenge is to find ways to engage people and rebuild trust, much like anyone employed in the business of issues management.

That won't be easy because some of the issues to manage include the role of women in the church, homosexuality and gay marriage, a shrinking clergy, contraception and abortion and economic justice, a topic Pope Francis is already well versed on.