Sunday, December 28, 2014


At minute 12 and second 40 (12:40) Pope Francis begins his discourse with large Italian Families in the Paul VI Hall on Sunday morning, December 28th, the Solemnity of the Holy Family. Before he reads his speech to these families with numerous children and I mean numerous, His Holiness first asks if he could pose a question to them. "What time did you get up this morning to arrive here?" The children say 3 AM, 4 AM, 5 AM! Then the Pope says, "well then, you must be quite sleepy now or something to that effect!" But now I will read you my speech and really put you to sleep!"

One has to hear the pope say this in Italian. It is hilarious and I can hear my own mother or some of my Italian relatives saying this and everyone laughing at it. In fact it brought tears to my eyes as I laughed so hard. It's an Italian thing!

But if a reporter wrote down what the Pope said and one didn't have the opportunity to listen to it and understand it, one would miss the humor of this pope altogether. One cannot interpret this pope without understanding his Italian, peasant background and the ordinary way he speaks Italian which endears him to Italians. Italian is meant to be a language of the heart not necessarily of the intellect.

Go to minute 12:40, tone of voice and words used in Italian are very important to interpret the Italian properly and the Italian who speaks:


Gene said...

It's a language problem….no, wait…it's Ignatian spirituality…no, no…it's his sense of humor….no, that's not it, it's bad press…no, that can't be it…it's because traditionalists hate him…no, not that, either, it's just that he is so down-to-earth…no, it is because you people are just so mean….no, it is…help me out here…BUSH!!!! That's it!! George Bush…and the Republican party are secretly subverting the Pope!!!!

Daniel said...

Most people, and by that I mean Catholics and non-Catholics, liberals and conservatives, are willing to give Francis the benefit of the doubt because he comes across as a down-to-earth person who loves people. That is true of his language and his mannerisms and his humble way of life. He is not a dry, austere, humorless, hypercritical bureaucrat with little or no contact with regular people. He is, we all know, a true conservative but people are just inclined to cut him a little slack because he is like the Italian uncle you remember.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Father! Long time follower, first time commenting. I am not Italian, but Spanish and Filipino, having lived in both Spain and the Philippines, as well as here in the U.S. While I'm not fluent in Italian, I feel very much at home with the language and the culture.

I understand and respect Pope Francis, and I do not like him as bishop or pope. For me, the issue is decorum. Given his Italo-Argentine background, you would think that he would know how to dress properly, mind his etiquette and manners, be a gentleman, and basically try not to be a burden to others.

Yet, when someone elected to the highest office of the Catholic Church insists on: not wearing choir dress when called for; wearing black trousers underneath translucent white cassock; wearing ugly vestments when there many beautiful ones inside the closet; insisting on "humbler" living and transportation arrangements when the proper ones are already paid for; not visiting the Cathedral and meeting with the faithful when he visited Strasbourg; insists that the Church is not an NGO, yet behaves and talks as if it is; etc.--then you know that this Pope just doesn't have it all screwed tight up there.

I'm sorry, but all of our previous popes--including the Hamlet-like Paul VI--knew how to behave as gentlemen clerics. And without losing their sense of humor at that. This one, on the other hand, seems to take after his fellow South American populists, like Maduro, Chavez, Peron, Mujica of Uruguay, Castro, etc.


John Nolan said...

I am not remotely interested in the Pope's sense of humour or lack of it; I'm not Italian so his 'in' jokes pass me by (and let's face it, Italy's greatest poet wrote something he called a divine comedy which has precious few laughs in it). JP II might have given the odd 'nudge, nudge, wink, wink' to his Polish audiences but not being a Pole it would have meant nothing to me.

The Pope should be something more than an ex-pat Eyetie trying to curry favour with a population that was always fickle and is now almost entirely irreligious. Most Romans would not dream of entering a church unless it were to show tourists around. The Italian birthrate is one of the lowest in Europe and is well below replacement level. Italians live surrounded by the most enduring monuments of western civilization but care only for ephemeral fashion and so-called 'style'.

Ah well, they're probably no worse than the rest of us; the difference is, the have less excuse.

Daniel said...

Raymond has perfectly captured the mindset that the Holy Father is up against, and working to change: The concern over "proper" dress and ritual above all, including the substance of what he is actually saying, the sense that "humbler" living quarters and behavior are somehow wrong instead of Christlike; his concern for how the church ministers to the entire world, not merely the entrenched bureaucracy. People also thought the man who dined with tax collectors and prostitutes, forgave the adultress and took water from the Philistine woman was not all screwed up tight.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Raymond - What constitutes "ugly" vestments? Simple, unadorned vestments are, to many people, every bit as "beautiful" as brocades with heavy embroidery and yards of decorative edging.

And what constitutes "proper" transportation? Are the cars he chooses to travel in bought for his use, or are they not also "already paid for"?

Rood Screen said...

Personally, I don't find Pope Francis to be problematic, and I'm ambivalent about how he dresses. However, certain persons holding problematic positions adversely affecting faith and morals seem to be encouraged by him, so that's a problem.

And, I think Gene is right. If Pope Francis is a good shepherd, as we should assume he is, then the Holy Father's words and deeds should speak for themselves, without the need of extensive interpretive efforts.

As for Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh, I think a shepherd with his sense of justice and with Father MacDonald's sense of worship would be ideal. These two should learn from each other.

Православный физик said...

The Pope is an adult, let his words and actions speak for themselves. Is not the constant need for interpretation a problem? This week it's this, next week it's that....

If he's intending to be funny, it's certainly not working for me.

I do agree with Raymond to a certain degree. It's not necessarily per se the fact that he refuses choir dress (I suppose he's Pope, so he could exempt himself) is however the fact that he could nip a lot of these rumors in the bud, but he refuses to do so. Doing wholesale changes without explanation generally leads to a lot of suspicion. True humility doesn't need to be shown like a play, it radiates, comes from God.

I can certainly agree with Fr K that simple can be beautiful as well. But it's also true that sometimes one has to do what one is uncomfortable with for various reasons....Maybe ornate vestments would be a penance for some ....Good can be brought out of most anything....A blessed 1st Sunday after the Nativity to everyone.

Templar said...

How come I could understand Benedict without knowing German, or John Paul without knowing Polish?

I guess if Francis is rebuilding the Church what we're experiencing is the construction equivalent of "Demo-day".

Rood Screen said...


Perhaps JPII and BXVI had the apostolic task of rescuing VCII from destruction, which their teachings have done, and now Pope Francis is getting back to the usual business of just being a pope. If this is the case, then we need not focus so much on what he says or does during his papacy, but on who he is as the Petrine bishop of Rome.

That's the best I can come up with.

Marie said...

Today, Dec. 28, our problem was not with Pope Francis but with the calendar. I understand that for the Novus Ordo, the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas is "Holy Family," and that's fair enough.

But with the EF, there's this confusion of the "Sunday within the Octave of Christmas" and "Holy Innocents Day." My wall calendar and few internet Ordos said it is "Holy Innocents Day," the liturgical color being "Red," and there should be a Gloria in Excelsis, and the Alleluia.

[If it were on a weekday, the color would have been Violet, no Gloria, and there should be a Tract instead of Alleluia. The reason, according to my web sources, is because the Holy Innocents didn't enjoy Beatific Vision until after the Resurrection. But that's beside the point, since it's a Sunday today, and I was quite sure it's Red, and with the Gloria, and Alleluia.]

So I followed my wall calendar and my other sources and made our Propers leaflet hand-outs, for Holy Innocents, practiced the scola for Holy Innocents, and dressed up the altar frontal in Red.

When our priest arrived this morning, he started to get ready to wear gold [with a red embroidery and red lining, so that was all right.] But he had prepared for a Mass for the Sunday within the Octave instead of Holy Innocents.

We had a mild discussion where I cited all my references, so he took a few minutes to look over and study the Mass for Holy Innocents. And the Mass went on smoothly according to my program.

Later today, he phoned me to say that according to his St. John Cantius Ordo [which I had given him as a Christmas gift], it should have been the "Sunday within the Octave." I said I was sorry, there must have been a mistake. But I stood my ground.

I logged on to Fr. Z to see what he had to say [he usually tells you what Sunday we are celebrating], but he has both the Sunday within the Octave and Holy Innocents on his site.

I'm probably feeling depressed over spilled milk, but I can't help it. Please help with you prayers. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I do believe that there are some among us who wouldn't recognize a sense of humor....Italian, Polish, British, American...any kind, if it bit them in the butt....

Anonymous said...


I understood everything you wrote and it was succinctly correct. I wish you were wrong but we have 21 months of evidence to know you aren't


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Raymond - Regarding the Pope's trip to Strasbourg, the schedule for the day was announced nearly two months (Oct 7) prior to the trip (Nov 25).

There was nothing shocking or indecorous about the schedule for the day. Papal visits to Cathedrals are planned many months, sometimes years, in advance. As you have no knowledge of the process of planning for the Pope's addresses to the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, how do you conclude that there was anything untoward in this visit?

What do you find in his speech and behavior that makes him seem like the head of and NGO?