One of the most salient traits of our Pontiff is the vast amount of hot air he emits. I mean by that those frequent soundbites meaning either nothing, or nothing definable with any precision, or everything and nothing. In Italian: fuffa.
Understandably, the Press – accustomed to deal with people who know what they are saying – tries to give a meaning to what Francis has published, stubbornly faithful to the idea that when one says something, it is because he has an idea or an opinion to convey. In Italy there is a tradition of subtle messages launched to the press, and Vatican prelates use it as much as Italian politicians. What would be inconvenient or too bold to say openly, is said in a veiled manner so that the message sinks in, but the open conflict is avoided. Therefore, the press – particularly the Italian one – always looks for the veiled message. Again: they think that one knows what he is saying. Can one blame them?
I am not sure by Francis this is always the case. My impression is rather that he loves to hear his humble talking so much, that he does not care whether it has a meaning. If it sounds somewhat different, or “pastoral”, or daringly thoughtful, it’s good enough. It will make for fine headlines.
One example from the last days is the rambling of the Pope about the girl complaining of her bitchy lesbian “mothers”. Francis is quoted as follows:
“How can we proclaim Christ to these boys and girls? How can we proclaim Christ to a generation that is changing? We must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them”
This sounds like one talking freely after a very good lunch, and the fourth or sixth after-lunch fernet. The mental association to the vaccine must have sprung to his mind, like those associations freely presenting themselves to our consciousness when we are about to fall asleep, and he just thought the world could not do without this piece of wisdom. What the hell the entire period is supposed to mean has remained, as I write, a mystery.
So the hunt for a meaning started. It started because there isn’t any apparent one, so there must be a carefully hidden one. “What does the Pontiff really say?” could be an interesting blog.
So, there is the admission that there is a “generation that is changing”. But… is it so? No, of course not. Humans never change. Sins, virtues, challenges, are always exactly the same. So he must have meant something else. Perhaps the Pope wanted to say that the times are changing? Possibly. Did he condemn the change? Nope. So the times are changing, but … who is he to judge? Is this what he wants to say?
Than there’s the part with the vaccine. When is it that one administers a vaccine against the faith to a young girl? When he says to her that her “mothers” are bound for hell? Possibly. So one shouldn’t? Very possibly. Well then: does the Pope mean one shouldn’t because it’s too soon, or one shouldn’t because it’s wrong to be “judgmental”? Again: who is he to judge? Is this what he wants to say? This Pope has said so many stupid things so many times, that now they haunt him whatever he says, because every journalist has those “bombs” in mind and thinks they might be exploding again.
Live by the novelty, die by the novelty. This is the Pope of the scandalous statements. Whenever he opens his mouth and says something senseless, of course the hunt for the scandalous statement will start. Don’t blame the journalists, because they do their job. Blame the Pope, because he can’t do his.
Why did Francis not just shut up? Why must this man open his mouth every time his teeth need some air, and some reporter at the Vatican radio or elsewhere must tell the planet Francis’ teeth had a nice breath of fresh air around 2:15 pm yesterday afternoon? Are they unable to understand that the inordinate ramblings of this man embarrass everyone even when he manages not to give open scandal? Or is it so, that the journalists at the vatican radio do “get” it, and the one who does not “get” it is Francis himself?
I can’t imagine the Vatican press office encourages him to such free-wheeling streams of consciousness. The consumptions of tranquillisers over there must be astounding.
The result of all these adolescent shenanigans is that once again, the Vatican press office had to move to deny the Pope is about to say, or supports, something unheard of. And once again, Catholics all over the planet must have wondered whether Catholic rules are so easy to change, or alternatively – and far more accurately – whether something is very wrong with the old man.
The Pope is 77. My suggestion is that he should never give any interview or any speech of sort after lunch or dinner, and as long as digestion is ongoing.
He is enough of a mess when he knows what he wants to say.