How frequently do Catholics and other interested people pause and wonder what has become of the pope?

In the last few years or decades of his life, he’s been turned into a Hollywood-style superstar, building a classic “cult of personality”. People throng just to be near the guy; they cry at his feeble utterances; credit his helming of a morally-ambivalent organization with great things beyond his power; they count down to his death (or is that apotheosis). He has become subject of the very sort of idolatry prohibited by the bible’s first commandment.

At the same time, he is used as a statue, a parade float. Long ago, his disease rendered him effectively immobile. He is now carried in his own version of Lenin’s tomb, whether in the form of the popemobile, the wheeled standing platform, the wheelchair. I find striking the images of the poor old man being pushed to and fro by his subordinates, being told what to try to say, the microphones being pulled away from him, the curtains being drawn on him. He is treated like a puppet!

Compare him to a chief executive of some other organization, such as a corporation or a government. When was the last actual administrative act (not public appearance, not mere “holding of office”) that the pope has performed? What has he done lately, beyond surviving in his tenure? Would any other organization retain such a severely handicapped person? In what form could he have been a leader rather than just an icon or figurehead for the catholics?

I don’t get it.