Why the Pope would hide his cross during some meetings and not others remains a mystery. If indeed he was making a gesture, it would seem to be inconsistent to display it sometimes and not others. Perhaps some situations were deemed more sensitive than others, or some people in the official photo op more squeamish than others. (Since the pope could hardly be hiding his cross for some, then taking it out for others, it remains hidden.)
On the whole, while the Bear thinks it is odd, and believes the "wardrobe malfunction" argument is ridiculous on its face (he's been Pope a year, surely that would have been sorted out by now; the cross would have to defy the laws of physics to lift itself up and jam itself into the tight sash; no aide to say before a photo op, "Holy Father, your cross") there is no conclusive proof of the original premise, i.e. that it was done out of an unseemly sensitivity.
So, it remains a mystery.
It is, however, mysterious enough to justify commenting, and the conclusions the Bear took away from them are not unreasonable. When we have a pope known for grand gestures that depart from the norm, it is likely that he would show some sort of interfaith sensitivity.
Therefore, in the spirit of innocent until proven guilty and proof beyond reasonable doubt, the Bear hereby retracts the negative and inflammatory inferences made previously. It will remain a mystery until a reasonable explanation is put forward, but no, "wardrobe malfunction" doesn't cut it here.
The cross is the symbol of our faith. The pope wearing the cross is symbolic. By tucking the cross into his sash, whether because it is an annoyance to him, or out of sensitivity, Pope Francis is creating a public "anti-symbol." Even if it repeatedly happens by accident -- which the Bear doesn't buy for a minute -- the effect would be the same. (And no aide to tell the Pope his cross is tucked in his sash before a formal photo op?)
|Pope Benedict with Cross in Sash|
Update: Looks like it is possible the way Pope Benedict wore his pectoral cross to get it into the sash. One can find several pictures of Pope Benedict standing and sitting with his cross inside his sash. Furthermore, there seems to be no discernible motivation for any of these instances. One difference is that Pope Benedict appears to have had his cross attached, not actually suspended from the chain by itself -- you can see the chain hanging from where it is attached in front -- while Pope Francis just lets it hang from a chain. Nonetheless, there is certainly enough evidence to support the claim that Pope Francis did not do it deliberately. Of course, one may still believe it was deliberate, but it would seem that Pope Francis legitimately deserves acquittal on the allegation of scandal. The Bear's private doubts remain, but Bear rhymes with fair, no?
|Pope Benedict Arrives in Israel|