Thursday, January 09, 2020

The Papal Slap

I wrote this for Rorate Caeli.


A lot of people have weighed in on Pope Francis repeatedly slapping the hand of a pilgrim in St Peter’s Square. Reactions have not divided simply along ideological lines. Austin Ruse suggested, on Twitter, that Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II would have reacted even more fiercely to a pilgrim grabbing their hands and not letting go. I was undecided myself at first. The pilgrim’s action did seem a little aggressive. On the other hand, there she is, in the video, a rather small Chinese lady, making a sign of the cross to steel herself to take the hand of the much larger Pope, surrounded by body guards. From what one can see of the timing of the incident, the Pope reacts as he does not to the surprise of the physical aspect of the gesture, but to what she is saying. She is saying something about Hong Kong…

Read the rest on Rorate.

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  1. It is just the reaction that is so bizarre. I cannot imagine myself hitting a woman because she had pulled me off balance. I would have more likely laughed and said something like, "you nearly had me over luv." Perhaps it is cultural - do Argentinians go around slapping women?

  2. Regardless of any surmised comments about Hong Kong surely physical violence (because that's what it is) is totally unacceptable. Where were the 'minders'?