Pope Francis doesn’t always sound like Mr. Nice Guy

Dear reporters:

You’re full of you-know-what.

Sincerely, Pope Francis

Not quite the missal you’d expect from the man who enjoys the media-crafted image of a mild, friendly, non-judgmental granddaddy. But there’s another side to Pope Francis.

Like when he described journalists in vivid terms:

“Sometimes negative news does come out, but it is often exaggerated and manipulated to spread scandal. Journalists sometimes risk becoming ill from coprophilia and thus fomenting coprophagia, which is a sin that taints all men and women, that is, the tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive aspects.”

Coprophilia? Coprophagia?

Yep, they are real words, and not nice ones. The first is a love of feces. The second is consuming it. So in the Holy Father’s eyes, journalists tend to love the stuff.

This picture of a potty-mouthed pope is a far cry from the benign view of Francis pushed in much of the media, as Laurence England says on CNN. He notes that writers often contrast the nice-guy Francis with his “mean-spirited, judgmental and arrogant predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.”

England, for one, finds those caricatures “laughable”:

[Benedict] was ever the gentleman. Even his criticisms of trends in modern society that run contrary to the church’s teachings on life, marriage and the family were delivered in courteous language.

And when Benedict did say something likely to be deemed offensive, he was often extremely careful about the way in which he said it.

In fact, he was much more careful not to offend than his successor on the throne of St. Peter.

Only recently have some stories come to grips with the reality of a sharp-tongued pontiff. “The pope is actually the vicar of snark,” says a well-researched story in The Week. Like England’s piece, The Week says Pope Benedict XVI was nicer than his public image, and Francis is not quite as nice:

Pope Benedict was a warm and often misunderstood scholar … Even when much of what he offers is criticism, it comes with a light and inviting touch.

The unnoticed part of the “new tone” in the church is that Francis is practically an insult comic. Where Benedict sought to condemn errors in the abstract, Pope Francis makes it personal and attacks tendencies within certain groups of people, usually in highly stylized papal idioms.

Those “papal idioms” can sound abstract, as The Week notes. People won’t get their backs up at insults like “Pelagians” or “Christians of words” or “querulous and disillusioned pessimists.”

Probably not, but Laurence England found more common invective among Francis’ quotes:

[Read more...]


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