“Rabbitgate”: Video Witness Shames The Pope
Louie Verrecchio has a very interesting post about “Rabbitgate” and whilst the subsequent statements of the Pope do have to be considered a backpedaling on the aeroplane statements themselves, the matter of the sincerity of the man is another pair of (presumably, black) shoes altogether.
I suggest you watch all the video, which is well worth your time. I am Italian and, following Mr Verrecchio’s invitation, I will focus on the part starting at 3:25 and ending at 3:47, that is: on the video witness of the words of the Pope.
1) “rimproverare” means “rebuke, scold, reprimand”. It is the verb typically used to express the scolding of the teacher to his elementary school pupil, or of the parent to his child. As such, it most often implies a kind of educational superiority (perfectly OK in this context, as a Pope can certainly “rebuke” a faithful, if there is a valid reason for it). A friend does not “rimprovera” a friend. In no way can the verb be made to mean “encounter, express”, & Co. It’s not even the offering of an opinion, or a suggestion. It’s the statement of a wrong attitude or behaviour, coming from the one who has the task of correcting any such wrong attitude or behaviour.
2) I am a bit picky here, but I thought I should give some colour: a properly educated and properly speaking Italian would invariably say, in this context, “Signora” instead of “donna”, “lady” instead of “woman”. He would do it naturally, without looking for the word, because donna is nowadays automatically used in a more familiar context (“che bella donna!”) or in a less complimentary one (“stai attento a quella donna!”), whereas “Signora” is automatically used when a more proper or formal context is involved (“di’ “grazie” alla Signora!” “Mi scusi, Signora…”). Again, “Lady” and “woman” very much give the context. Francis probably does not have the linguistic finesse necessary to make such a distinction, nor do I know how this is properly expressed in Spanish. But if a Pope does not get the fine things, he should only read texts that have them already on paper instead of blabbering around. When one speaks with journalists one flirts with disaster even if one has his thoughts and language perfectly under control. Francis has neither.
3) 3:34 to 3:35 show a typical, rather endearing trait of the Italian communicator: the use of the body to support what the mouth is saying. In this case, Francis bobs his body as obvious result of a largish (large, for his age) arm movement. This is a typical Italian trait, always seen when a certain excitement is making itself noticeable, and invariably meant to convey the conviction of the speaker. Francis could have said the same words in a careless, half-humurous, casual manner not implying emotional involvement (“oh, I remember that time…”) and there would have been no arm movement and no body bobbing. Here, though, there can be no doubt: this is the body language of one who is saying: “She did so and so! Really?! What kind of behavior is THAT!?” (note: the eyes wide open during the phrase: another typical reinforcement).
What does this tell me?
1) Francis was rather excitedly persuaded of what he was saying.
2) He thought he was making an obvious point. He had no suspicion whatsoever of an ensuing controversy. Therefor,
3) What he said reflects his true feelings, his convictions concerning that particular pregnancy. He can’t even imagine others would disagree. This, my friends, is what Peron and Tango do to you…
He has backpedaled, I know. He has backpedaled in pretty much as much of a clear and unmistakeable way as can be normally expected by a Pope. But there is no doubt in my mind that this backpedaling is not the fruit of him realising that he has inadvertently expressed himself in, say, an unlucky way. On the contrary: he says very clearly what he means, and his body language makes the point all the way. The backpedaling is therefore, without the shadow of a doubt, an exercise in damage control meant to distract the faithful from what the Bishop of Rome really thinks.
The text taken in isolation could make someone think of an impropriety of expression, or of a slip of the tongue, or of a very tired man. But the video shows the man in its authentic behaviour, and to this Italian he shows the full man as he gesticulates and bobs back and forth, calling (in conformity of what age allows) his whole body to agree with his tongue, as we Italians so beautifully do. IN two words, the video tells the lie about the story of the misunderstanding.
The backpedaling was a correction all right.We accept it as a correction of a wrong statement.
But do not think for a second that it reflects what the Bishop of Rome thinks. To him, the woman is clearly as worthy of rebuke as water is wet.
P.s. As for Mr Verrecchio’s observation about neighbours.
Of course I would not want him as a neighbour.
Who would want to listen to the anti-Capitalist rant of a frustrated Commie with a big mouth, but who knows jack about pretty much everything?