PopeWatch: Humor?

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Father Z has an interesting anecdote about the Pope:


It seems that the site Messa in latino picked up on an anecdote recounted by a French site Benoit etmoi.  Here’s my translation from the French, which seems to be the original of the anecdote.  I’m cutting out the first part, just to get at the core of the anecdote itself.   Mind you, we are dealing with something that happened recently, after this spring or early summers traditional round of diocesan ordinations to the priesthood.  However, we are also dealing with something that it second hand at best.

A group of young priests from the same diocese, who were just ordained, made a pilgrimage together to Rome. They were not traditionalists, but young priests of today, white shirt with discreet collar, [in some European countries you will see during the summer priests in a white clerical shirt with “tab” collar] classic, pious, normal, very happy with the gift of Christ they had just received. Naturally, they asked and obtained (the chance) to have dinner at Santa Marta and to be presented to the Pope, and also to concelebrate with him at Mass the next day.

They arrived at Santa Marta at the designated time, and went to the place indicated. A secretary pointed them out to the Pope who was approaching. The Pope: “Where are you from?” They, proudly: “Of the Diocese of X”.  And he, with a sour expression [avec la mine des mauvais jours]: “Ah, X, there are still many priests there. That means that there is a problem, a problem of discernment.” And he continues his journey.

The young priests, dismayed, looked at each other, conferred, and left without eating.  And the next day, they spared themselves the concelebration at Santa Marta.

Okay… what to do with this.  And, mind you, I’m doing this here because I’ve had a lot of requests.

It could be that these young men mistook the Pope’s expression.  Some people’s default face isn’t always cheerful looking.

It could be that these young men mistook the Pope’s words.  There could be a language difference.

However, since there were a few of them, they probably were not all mistaken in their interpretation and it drove them to leave and not come back.

Popes kid around with seminarians and priests.  John Paul II sure did.  Here is one of my own anecdotes with John Paul.  I’ve never told this one here before.

Since my seminary in Rome was named after JPII, we seminarians were often called to serve his Masses.  Hence, I had quite a few opportunities as a seminarian and as a deacon.  I was a deacon often enough that the Holy Father got to know me.  One day, as deacon, I brought the thurible into the small sacristy tucked away near the altar of the Pietà (they laid our our dalmatics, etc., on the altar beneath the Pietà – that wasn’t cool or anything…) for the Pope, as celebrant, to “charge”.  As I approached he said in Italian, “You again!”  As I held it up he said, “Which seminary are you from?”  Of course he knew.  He asked every time.  “The John Paul the Second International Seminary, Your Holiness.”  With clearly mock dismay, he almost bellowed, “Terribile! Terribile!”  Everyone was amused, including myself.  Then he became very grave.  Leaning in almost nose to nose, he repeatedly pounded me hard on the chest with his finger and said, punctuating every word, “Tu… deve essere serio.  You… have to be serious.”  “Serio” means “serious”, but also “focused, earnest”.

That experience was a little frightening, to be frank.  First, that was the POPE.  Also, that was Pope Wojtyla.  It is a bit cliché to speak of what it felt like when he came into a room, but I guarantee you he was like no one else I’ve seen.  Seeing him come in or meeting him briefly is one thing.  Having him pound you repeatedly on the chest nose to nose is another.

Clearly the saint was trying in an extremely personal moment to inspire a man to something more than mediocrity.  After all, my seminary had his name.  Ergo, we reflected him, in a way.  We had to live up to that.

Let’s just say that I have not forgotten that moment.

It could be that Pope Francis was trying to do something similar with these young priests, but missed the mark.


Go here to read the rest.  Was the Pope attempting to kid around with the newbie priests?  Possibly.  If so, he failed miserably, which brings to mind the show business maxim:  Dying is easy.  Comedy is hard.

More to explorer

PopeWatch: Uncle Ted

 “Yeah, five years. If we had five years, the Lord working through Bergoglio in five years could make the Church over again.”

Requiescat in Pace: Pat Caddell

  Pat Caddell has passed away at age 68.  He went from being Jimmy Carter’s wunderkind pollster in 1976 to supporting Trump


  1. Your recollection reminded me of a funny story Rick Santorum told at a conference I attended many years ago. He and his family had been selected to attend a Mass or to get to meet Pope St. John Paul II. He mistakenly thought it had to do with his being a Senator (at that time). When they were introduced or when the Pope was passing them, he looked at the Senator and his family and said, “You very important man.” Rick Santorum shyly agreed saying, “Yes…” but was interrupted when the Pope pointed his finger and touched Rick’s upper chest. Rick replied, “…uh, why Ye…” when the Pope pounded his finger into Rick’s upper chest, and repeated, “YOU VERY IMPORTANT MAN.” Not knowing if he should get angry, he realized the Pope was greeting his family with smiles and warmth. The Pope had no idea he was a Senator, but could clearly see he was a husband and father.

  2. I will confess to having a pessimistic view of our current pope, but do stories like this possess any value? What is the need by some people to continually pour fuel onto this fire?

  3. @ ken.

    Prayers are seriously needed for our Pope.
    Pray for him because he is in need and our Holy Catholic Church is in need.

    Watchtower sentinels are important as long as they get rest between shifts.

  4. The problem here is that Pope Francis has a history of giving people insults. There is a web site called “The Pope Francis Little Book of Insults” dedicated to listing them. The Pope has a history of giving people the Prophet Jeremiah treatment.

  5. “I will confess to having a pessimistic view of our current pope, but do stories like this possess any value?”
    Holy Scripture is very badly translated at some places, calling God a “which” or a “that”. God is a “WHO” All sovereign persons are “WHO”. If Holy Scripture can be misunderstood and badly translated, why cannot Popes be badly misinterpreted?

  6. “The young priests, dismayed, looked at each other, conferred, and left without eating. And the next day, they spared themselves the concelebration at Santa Marta.”
    Who am I to judge?
    If the effect was indeed “this”, then it was poorly said.

  7. “Ah, X, there are still many priests there. That means that there is a problem, a problem of discernment.”

    There are only 2 possible positive spins on this (or rather one and a half)
    1) Diocese X should start renting them out to other dioceses, or even to missionary country (but it’s getting to the point there is little difference)
    2) The Pope thinks ‘too many’ priests mean too many bad priests.

    If there are any other possibilities they are bad indeed. One additional thought: the young priests should have steeled themselves and gone to the concelebration. At best they would have gained more clarity.

  8. Well.

    If a character-reference regarding this Pope is needed, to indirectly corroborate the story of these young newly ordained, all one need merely point out to you are the documented comments of the now-deposed Cardinal Muller. It is entirely in character with this man’s (Bergoglio’s) otherwise often loutish behavior.

  9. Thee is nothing funny about what Pope Francis said. Rather it was discouraging and therefore an evil thing to say at this time, in this place, by this person, to these particular people.

  10. “Clearly the saint was trying in an extremely personal moment to inspire a man to something more than mediocrity.”

    Rather like the story of Bl John Henry Newman and a young ordinand, an Oxford convert. Newman asked the young man about his Greek studies.

    “Well,” said the young man, “I did get a First at Oxford in classics.”

    “Very commendable,” observed Newman dryly, “but don’t you feel a clergyman should aspire to something rather more than a gentleman’s knowledge of Greek?”

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