Franco Zeffirelli: Pope Needs an Image Makeover

This BBC story shows how naive I am. I didn’t realize Supreme Pontiffs had image advisors:

Franco Zeffirelli, the Italian film, stage and opera director, has said Pope Benedict XVI needs a makeover of his “cold” image and “showy” clothes.

Zeffirelli told La Stampa newspaper that the Pope communicated in a cold way that was little suited to what was happening around him.

These are not times for high tailoring in papal vestments, he said.

He contrasted the relaxed attitude of the late Pope John Paul II to his official attire with that of Benedict.

Lacking his predecessor’s charisma, Pope Benedict has taken to wearing some eye-stopping outfits in public, such as a red velvet cape trimmed with ermine, last worn by popes in the 19th Century.

When he donned a fur-trimmed red cap, some people mistook it for a Santa Claus hat.

‘I’d relish the job’

Zeffirelli, a Roman Catholic, was employed several times by the Vatican during John Paul II’s reign as a designer for the staging of major papal ceremonies.

He told La Stampa he would relish being Pope Benedict’s image consultant.

“If they gave me an official supervisory role, I would dedicate myself to it full time,” Zeffirelli said.

“I know [Joseph] Ratzinger personally,” he added, using the German-born pope’s name before he became pontiff.

“He is very attentive to the importance of how the sacred is represented.”

So far there has been no reaction to Zeffirelli’s offer from the Vatican.

Update 12/15, 7:45 PM: Reader Steve provided this vital addition: an ecclesiastical fashion show from Fellini’s Roma:

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  1. Anonymous

    Wonderful fashion show! I couldn’t think of a better epitaph. Perhaps the wooden stake that needs to be driven through the heart of the catholic church could have an iPod at its head showing this over and over and over again.

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