The unprecedented level of media devoted to the election of Pope Francis is a clear indicator of the importance of the Church today, a Catholic author and blogger reflected.
“The main thing that struck me is what I'd call the paradox of irrelevancy,” Brandon Vogt told CNA March 14, “which is the world saying the Church is irrelevant but then turning its attention to the Church.”
In the weeks leading up to Pope Francis' election, Vogt noted that much of the commentary from the secular press focused on how “outdated” and “unimportant” the Church is, yet when it came time for the conclave “all heads turn towards Rome.”
“Before the conclave you have this great accusation of irrelevance,” he explained, “but, paradoxically, at the conclave you have the most relevant event to the entire world.”
“I think what it shows is that deep down,” Vogt said, “the secular world knows that the Church is relevant.”
The 26-year-old blogger is author of the acclaimed 2011 book, “The Church in the New Media.” His work has been featured in NPR, FoxNews, EWTN, Our Sunday Visitor and National Review.
As news of the white smoke indicating the election of a new Pontiff broke, Vogt said he was shocked by the reaction he saw not only from the secular media, but also from non-Catholic friends in social media.
Vogt, who converted to Catholicism five years ago, said he was surprised to see that even his Protestant friends shared in the “exhilaration and excitement” of the Catholic Church.
Even people in circles who would say that the Holy Father is “not important” or even “a spiritually dangerous figure” watched the results with the “same enthusiasm” as Catholics, Vogt said.
“I think that all people, Catholics and non-Catholics, ultimately sense the transcendence of this event,” he said. “They all know that something is going on that is bigger than us, that is bigger than America, that’s bigger than the secular media (and is) something beyond our control and understanding.”
Although the selection process of a new pontiff is “shut off from the world,” the “universality” of the Church was apparent in how the process brought “the world together as a community.”
In the past, people may have gathered to watch the announcement on television, but most likely one would have learned of the news via radio or newspaper and then discussed it days later with friends or family.
This time, however, as soon as Pope Francis “stepped down to the balcony,” Vogt said, “friends and I were automatically exchanging pictures and articles and commentary.”
That kind of communication and interaction “has never happened before.”
Vogt said social media helped “echo” the universality of the Church as reaction to the first non-European Pope of the modern era flooded the internet.
Within the first hour of the Argentine's pontificate, Vogt said he was able to witness celebrations all over Latin America, read commentary from authors throughout Europe and view pictures from Africa.
Taking the example of the conclave and election of Pope Francis, Vogt said that even if the public and the media does not, “understand that it’s God behind it” the attention is received shows that “they sense the majesty, the beauty, the brilliance (and) the tradition of something great.”