Sunday, January 5, 2020

Slapping in Public

Not for the first time, His Holiness Pope Francis publicly slapped the hand of a woman who did not want to let him go, this time on New Year's Eve in Rome. The previous time was in Chile. The Holy Father has since apologized. People excuse Pope Francis' age and his Mediterranean temperament. However, most of the preceding popes for the last 2000 years have been old men with Latin/ Mediterranean tempers, including some who had also been tortured for the faith before becoming pope. Popes such as Boniface VIII have been struck in public; in the case of Pope Boniface it is known as the "Sacrilege of Agnani." But smacking women in public has hitherto been unknown in the papal annals. One can also blame having mistresses and illegitimate children at the Lateran palace as part of the Mediterranean temperament, too. But we have left all that behind forever, I hope. 

I think incidents such as the public slapping indicate the collapse of etiquette and protocol in the papal household.  I think in Pope Francis' case he may have dementia, from which the traditional protocol would once have protected him. Popes never shook hands. People would approach them and genuflect and kiss the hem of their garments, etc. Or the ring, if they were lucky. In public processions the popes were carried in chairs, surrounded by Swiss guards, which probably saved everyone a lot of awkward moments in the past. Neither did the popes speak ad lib to the press or give interviews. There were reasons for such formality; it was to protect the pontiff and the Church he represented. Now that we live in a world without manners or shared social constructs, we can see more easily the reasons behind the seemingly petty formalities. Share

4 comments:

Susan, OFS said...

I fully agree, sister. Age and "Mediterranean temperament" are no excuse. Some of the most gracious and mannerly men I know are over 80 (as are some of the crankiest). And I had a Sicilian grandfather, who would *NEVER* have dreamed of slapping or showing disrespect to *any* woman. I am a faithful Catholic and respect the Pope, but I think perhaps the carefully cultivated image of PF as a gentle, open-minded, approachable man is a bit flawed. Sometimes it is okay to cranky, and he admitted to it. But he isn't a walking saint (just as Pope Benedict was not a sinister Nazi), and the media needs to pick up on this.

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you for your comment, Susan. Nice to hear from you! Happy Epiphany!

julygirl said...

If this Pope insists on walking among the people than he needs to realize he will be subject to situations which may make him uncomfortable.

elena maria vidal said...

Exactly.