Pope Benedict Issues Formal Vatican Decree: A Smile Is Not a Sin


The New York Times published an article today that disclosed some of the jokes making their rounds about Pope Benedict and his secretary, Msgr. Georg Ganswein. This brief extract from the Times article describes some of those satirical moments:

Perhaps it is his good looks, or his work in the ever-so-serious Vatican, but for whatever reason, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, Pope Benedict XVI’s secretary, has suddenly found himself the butt of jokes in the Italian news media. In one radio skit, Rosario Fiorello, a comedian, portrayed Monsignor Gänswein dining at a brand-new restaurant called “The Last Supper,” where “one portion of fish was shared by 20.” He used a cellphone with Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus as its ring tone. The pope himself is also subject to ribbing. On Tuesday night, in a television skit, the comedian Maurizio Crozza impersonated Pope Benedict being a mite touchy about comparisons to his media-darling predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who was frail for years before his death. “Could Pope Wojtyla do this?” he barked to two attendants, bursting into song and tap dancing. “Or this?” he added, juggling three oranges.

Satire is going to be about people who are “part of the ecclesiastical star system,” Gianluca Nicoletti, a television critic for Radio 24, said in an interview. “It’s going to touch the weakest points.” As the humor has heated up, mainstream newspapers have jumped into the fray to defend the right to make jokes about religion. It is “hard to resist” spoofing a pope “who seems to have been raised in libraries and not among people,” wrote Francesco Merlo, a columnist for the daily paper La Repubblica.

In a curious “non-response” to this growing wave of satire, the pope’s secretary told his radio audience that “the Vatican was not offended.” “We’re convinced that smiles bring religion closer to the people,” he said, “because a smile is never a sin.”


If a Smile is Never a Sin, This One Sure Comes Close!

Pope is Wrong: This One’s Very Sinful.

In response to the Times article, Andrew Sullivan published this irreverent, biting criticism of the article (and the Pope) today on his Time Magazine blog, The Daily Dish:

“The NYT runs a very curious article today about Italian humor about the current Pope. None of the jokes cited seem to me to be very risque or even funny. The entire argument of the piece is undermined by lack of any real evidence that this pope is subject to any more ridicule than has historically been the case. Except of course for that photograph (see above, seated with Msgr. Georg Ganswein). It shows the actual source of the jokes circulating in the Vatican and elsewhere about this Prada-preferring, Gucci-wearing, high-drama German intellectual [Pope]. The actual jokes – which the NYT won’t print – are about how good looking so many of the men are who surround Benedict, especially his personal assistant, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, shown holding the large phallic microphone in front of Benedict’s face. The Vatican gossip merchants call Georg “Gay-Org.” He is inseparable from Benedict. And he surely is easy on the eyes. There is no evidence that Benedict has ever broken his vows of chastity; but there is no evidence that he is heterosexual either. Hence the gossip; hence the jokes. When you’re a Pope who declares that even closeted, chaste gay men cannot be priests, it’s pushing your luck to clothe yourself in Prada, bedeck your Pope-mobile with luxurious Natuzzi Italian white leather, and surround yourself with assistants who look like they strayed from the pages of “L’Uomo Vogue.”

Butch it up, sister. Or the jokes will only get louder.”


2 Responses to “Pope Benedict Issues Formal Vatican Decree: A Smile Is Not a Sin”

  1. Dr X Says:

    Great Pope post… I laughed out loud!

  2. disembedded Says:

    Hi Dr X,

    Thanks for your comment. Glad that you enjoyed it!

Comments are closed.

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