The Pope and the Clown Nose: “God save us from Sour-Faced Saints”

Well, Francis’s “Kissing that Koran” moment has come: he was photographed the other day putting on a clown nose with newlyweds. I can’t find any clear details about the connection between events, but apparently the couple are involved in a foundation whose name translates in English to Rainbow Association Marco Iagulli.

Of course, trads of various stripes are seething.
Now, it’s one thing to question whether this insults the “dignity of his office,” but to that, in spite of my own coulrophobia, I would refer Pope Francis’s critics to the nuns who criticized St. Teresa of Jesus for dancing with castanets at social time. Again, Holy Mother is well-known for saying, “From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, Lord deliver us!” Popes are people.
It strikes me, as Fr. Brett Brannen pointed out to me years ago regarding the interpretation of Vatican II, that a big point of the sedevacantist movement is the presence of mass media. Much of what has been claimed to be “unprecedented” about our recent Popes, particularly in terms of “off the cuff” interviews and casual photo ops, comes from the fact that these things simply didn’t exist. I’m sure Leo XIII and Pius IX showed moments of levity–indeed, I *know* they did. Imagine what people would have said if the Internet had existed when St. Therese broke protocol with Leo XIII!
“Calumny” has become a popular accusation in the Catholic blogosphere, but in this case, the attacks on the Pope are clearly calumnious. Because the name of the foundation translates in English to “Rainbow Association Marco Iagulli Onius,” people have tried to claim it’s somehow involved with homosexuality. It’s actually a charity for children with cancer founded by a coupe who lost their son Marco to non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, to help provide emotional and financial support to families with children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Among their many activities–which include, in general, on going psychological therapy for the children and their families, coordination of medical care and improving the experience of being in the hospital–is clown therapy. So, apparently, this couple who are volunteers with this all-volunteer foundation got married at the Vatican, and donated a clown nose to the Holy Father as, for lack of a better word, a publicity stunt for their foundation.
Now, if you want to talk about the bride’s dress and the Vatican’s dress code, you might have something. But criticizing the Pope for putting on a clown nose for a few seconds to amuse dying children in the hospital, you’re worse than a “sour-faced saint.”

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