Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world today when he announced that he will be resigning from his post on February 28th. Speaking in Latin to a group of cardinals, he said, “Before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise.” His tenure, while short, marked some of the most tumultuous years in Catholicism’s recent history. While his exit could easily be interpreted as yet another crisis for the Church, I believe they should seize this moment as a chance to really shake things up and welcome the 21st century head-on. It is time for a young, in-your-face pope with attitude up the wazoo and at least 3 million Twitter followers.
Benedict was always something of an interim pope. He was ordained at 78, making him the oldest pope in more than 200 years. In order to connect with younger generations, the new pope should be — at the very most — 25 years old. Do we really expect teens to listen to a septuagenarian’s lectures? Put a young, attractive pope in power and watch St. Peter’s Square fill up with shrieking fans.
The new pope should also have a great social media presence. The Pope’s current twitter account, @Pontifex, only has 1,524,951 followers. There are an estimated 1 billion Catholics in the world to tap into and Benedict is only connecting with a miniscule percentage. A younger pope would be well-suited to use hashtags and fun contests to raise his (or her!) follower count. Also, the new pope should already have Instagram to ensure an easy transfer of power.
Pope Benedict XVI’s 7 years in power will unfortunately be marred by abuse scandals and his perceived inaction in response to these. In other words, his brand is in the toilet, his Q Score is garbage, and his Klout sucks. The next pope will have a lot of ground to make up, so here are some essentials to reestablish — while reinventing — the classic pope brand:
This is a great opportunity for the Vatican and it should not be wasted. This decision will change the course of history, a history that is always advancing. The new pope should represent that.
Oh, it should be Bruno Mars, that would work.