Non E’ Francesco? Of Pop Songs, Puns, And Popes.

There is a Sixties’ pop song in Italy, “Non e’ Francesca”, which every Italian knows and could sing. Including, probably, newborn babies, already dead people, and people with advanced Alzheimer’s Disease. The song is cruelly beautiful and its enduring popularity, now arrived at the fourth generation, is utterly deserved.

“You are mistaken”, says the singing voice (the late, but not forgotten, Lucio Battisti), “she whom you have seen is not Francesca”; and he does not want to believe that the wife he believes so true is, in fact, undoubtedly betraying him.

Why do I tell you this? Because I love my country, and the best of even its pop culture, and the wonderful sense of humanity we carry with us, shortcomings and all; and Lucio Battisti, and this particular song, is as much a part of Italy as the Colosseum, or the balcony of Palazzo Venezia.

But there is also another reason: this very song is the obvious “insider joke” (for Italians) of Antonio Socci’s book, of imminent publication, and pre-selling already very well on Amazon: “Non e’ Francesco”. His own newspaper has very recently made the surprise announcement.

In it, Socci apparently states that you are mistaken: he whom you think the Pope is not Francesco, but Benedetto.

I have already written about the Rapunzel-like fantasies of the proponents of such outlandish theories, and I will not repeat them here.

I only ask this: when Pope Benedict dies who is, pray, supposed to be the Pope? Francis is no Pope – they say – and his election invalid. If Francis should die or resign, the election of his successor would also be invalid, because effected through a number of Cardinals appointed by a non-Pope. Nor could any other rule, bar the Second Coming, offer an unquestioned, valid way of election, as every alternative method would cause division and controversy on an absolutely atrocious scale. Mind, here, that for Socci five votes instead of four in the same day suffice to invalid an election (how he can be sure of the five is another matter), so it follows that every other rule would be a far bigger deviation, and totally arbitrary, and I can’t see how a validly elected Pope can come out of it.

So: is not the consequence of Socci’s thinking a Sedevacantism in instalments? How would the proposer of the theory recover from it?

And as we are there: are we really sure the number of votes in past conclaves was always the prescribed one? Not one more, not one less? What is, therefore, if a Pope was elected in such a procedurally vitiated way? Shall he be a valid Pope merely because there was no Emeritus around? What about his own appointments? Was the successor validly elected? How so, particularly in case of a long pontificate of the “Francesco” of the day?

And let us think further: Francis dies or resigns. What then? Is Benedict Pope? How so? Will he say “I have caved in to blackmail, therefore I should be reinstated”? Seriously? Shall he be re-elected? By whom? By Cardinals appointed by non-Pope Francis?

Or, Francis dies, and Benedict says “stop dreaming, Jungs!” (He has, by the way, he has! Socci was listening to Battisti, so he missed that…). What then, skipper? Unless the Cardinals elect Benedict again and he says “I accept, but I was always Pope anyway” and proceeds to appoint as Cardinals the new ones (or deprive them of their red hat) I can’t see how this will work.

Socci has, no doubt, an answer to all this. We will have to wait for the book. I merely doubt it will be a credible one. But we shall see.

Up to then, and if you ask me, and remaining by the song pun, Socci should listen to the song again and again and repeat to himself its first three words: “ti stai sbagliando”.

You are mistaken.


Posted on September 30, 2014, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Mund, If both popes die, it would be a miracle if the cardinals would vote for a decent pope. The only way I can see them doing so is that the on going crisis in the church gets so bad, they have to vote for someone like Innocent III to straighten things out, even if it might mean something bad for them. BTW, I ran into someone on another blog who said Papa Benedict was her pope. I pointed out Francis was the pope, whether we liked it or not. She replied Francis was the False Prophet. I told her to see a priest, for it sounds like you’re trying to be a seer. Have you run into anyone like that?

  2. I do not understand Italian, but I do understand the psychological mechanism of denial and I daily witness peoples love of weaving fantasy scenarios and joyfully subscribing to them in groups, euphemistically called ‘community’.

    In spite of this familiarity with human nature, there is something oddly unreal about Chico that I have not experienced in the 5 authentic Popes during my lifetime starting with Pius xii, the pope of my childhood. The ‘oddity’ seems to be that he does not resonate sound doctrine on important moral questions and it seems he praises heresy. So one naturally wonders whether the graces of the papacy are with him, or whether he is merely uncooperative with these graces. To make matters worse, you can’t speculate that there are 2 of him since all the ear photos seem to match.

    • “you can’t speculate that there are 2 of him since all the ear photos seem to match”.

      Ha! 😉

      You are absolutely right. It’s a flight from reality that seeks justification in the fact that others desire to flee in exactly the same way. The usual humous of conspiracy theories, by the way.


  3. Mundabor, if you would quit looking at it so clearly and logically, you would realize that many of these conspiracy theories make sense! You just have to suspend judgment and belief once in a while and join the great crowds—you wouldn’t be so alone you know!

    I am surprised, like Mrs. M Avila, at the way people weave these intricate stories out of thin air, believe them, and then demand that others believe them too. Truly incredible. Life is really quite a bit more boring and predictable.

  4. Maureen,
    5 authentic popes? Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI,,Francis.

  5. I do not believe speculation about the consequences of Socci’s thesis invalidates the thesis itself.

    • The logical absurdity of a thesis is, in itself, an indictment of the thesis, as it makes the thesis absurd.
      But certainly, the thesis should be presented in a credible way in the first place.
      Once can’t say “I believe on Mars it’s full of cats” and then state the speculation about the obvious absence of cat food over there doesn’t invalidate the thesis.

  6. There have been antipopes before and the Church survived and authentic popes elected.

    • The antipopes were not “wrongly elected official Popes”.
      They were pretenders of a throne that was legitimately occupied by a legitimate Pope, of which there is an uninterrupted chain.
      if Hans Kueng were to be elected Pope by a couple of dozen Cardinals, and believed to be it by a part of Catholicism, he would be an Antipope.
      But we would have a Pope (TMAHICH) and an Antipope (Kueng). The Church would stand with the official line of succession, as she always did.
      Theerefore, the comparison does not stand.

  7. I stated a fact. I was not making a comparison.

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