Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pope Reminds Jews They Crucified Christ

UPDATE V: Since posting this, readers have questioned whether this was a deliberate gesture. After finding pictures of Pope Benedict with his pectoral cross inside his sash -- including one upon arrival in Israel -- the Bear cannot make a conclusive claim that this was, in fact, a gesture on the part of Pope Francis. The pictures are there for you to make up your own mind. From video, one may see some of the assembled bishops also have their pectoral crosses tucked in their sashes, others do not.

The take-away message for us is (a) to sort out things thoroughly, unless we just want to run an agitprop blog (which the Bear emphatically does not); (b) to examine ourselves to see if we are not hypervigilant when it comes to Pope Francis; and (c) to put our money where are mouths are by WEARING OUR CRUCIFIXES IN PUBLIC. It is harder for most guys. It is really hard when you wear a suit and tie most days. Nonetheless, the Bear pledges to wear his crucifix exposed when he is not formally attired.

Res ipsa loquitur

"Francis! Put that thing away!"

"For he that shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation: the Son of man also will be ashamed of him, when he shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Mk 8:38

"But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven." Mt 10:33

"And Jesus saith to him: Amen I say to thee, to-day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice." Mk 14:30

"But Peter seeing, made answer to the people: Ye men of Israel, why wonder you at this? Or why look you upon us, as if by our strength or power we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus, whom you indeed delivered up and denied before the face of Pilate, when he judged he should be released. But you denied the Holy One and the Just: and desired a murderer to be granted unto you. But the author of life you killed." Ac 3:12–15

"If we deny him, he will also deny us." 2 Ti 2:12

"Having an appearance indeed of godliness but denying the power thereof." 2 Ti 3:5


This makes the Bear very, very angry. He's the Pope. If Israel receives the Pope into their country, they must bear with the insignia and symbols of the Vicar of Christ. It is unconscionable for a Pope to hide his cross. Pope Francis should be ashamed, no matter what the diplomatic niceties or all-important courtesies suggested.

Once again, Francis the man tries to send one message, and the voice of Peter rings out, just as it did in the the book of Acts. Francis hides the crucified Christ out of politeness, which is the shibboleth of the Lord of the World. However, Peter once again reminds the world that the ancestors of the Jews demanded that Pilate crucify their Messiah, and even today they cannot bear to see the Crucified One, even in representation, because it pricks their conscience.

The Bear would never say that, and it is quite a surprise for Pope Francis to send that message, even inadvertently, but one cannot read anything else into it. One hides what gives offense. What is it about a crucifix that might give offense to Jews?

This is a very bad message to send: very non-interfaith, very insensitive, and very impolite to his hosts. The Bear would never suggest such a thing, because he doesn't want his blog to be blacklisted by the Southern Poverty Law Center. But we have a Pope who cannot help but prophesy truly, just as Caiaphas did, because he was high priest when Jesus was condemned by the Jews, Caiaphas saying that it was better for one man to die for the people. Francis peeps one message, the raucous voice of the fisherman shouts another.

Update: St. Louis Catholic wonders if it is a "wardrobe malfunction." Answer: no.

In January, Pope Francis met with rabbis at the Vatican, and he similarly hid Christ's image. This seems to be a thing of his.

But the Bear wishes to reiterate how offensive and hurtful the well-meaning gesture is. He should give his guests or hosts credit for knowing that he is, after all, the head of the Catholic Church, whose symbol par excellance is the cross, even the crucifix. Is he saying that they are so fanatical that they, like vampires, cannot bear the sight of a cross? Or that they would feel guilty or something, so that he has to spare them?

How very wrong of the Pope. Sometimes you bend over backward trying not to call attention to something, but in doing so, you might as well put up a sign. Jews are a tough and noble people, certainly big enough to permit the Pope to wear a cross in their presence.

Anyway, the wardrobe malfunction theory is implausible, since the cross would have to be lifted and tucked into a tight cummberbund. This is not something that happens by accident.

Update II: Some are failing to find pictures of Pope Francis hiding his cross before. Here is a picture from the Vatican meeting mentioned in the previous update:

There are also pictures of the cross exposed at the same meeting. Perhaps here, Pope Francis has tucked his cross into his sash so it doesn't bang against the table or get dragged through his entree. Image found at the blog "Call me Jorge," which also has an additional picture (below) from the recent meeting (emphasis in original). Look at the pictures and decide for yourself if they look like the very same deliberate act, or an accident.

Here is a picture from the same blog of from his days in Argentina, where it seems to be the style. Perhaps both clerics were involved in a roll-over accident on the way and did not put themselves quite back together before this meeting?

Under the best-case excuse, is there not also a danger of scandalizing the faithful, who may conclude that Pope Francis is hiding his pectoral cross so as not to offend the sensibilities of those who he thinks might be offended? After all, it is kind of a big deal to hid one's crucifix. The Bear feels guilty when he doesn't wear his outside of his clothing. What if the president visited a foreign power with whom relations were historically strained, and did not have the national anthem played, or the flag displayed. Wouldn't that seem weird, and even offensive?

Anyway, perhaps some other blogger with far greater knowledge and readership than a dumb old Bear will come along and prove that, why, ALL clerics tuck their pectoral crosses into their sashes because one time Pope Pius XII made a sudden move and a small child's eye was put out.


Update III: This is an easy article to play that "Trads going nuts!!!" card on. (They have extra-large sleeves to keep all of them in, but surely they are running out by now, no?) "HOW could they POSSIBLY believe that Pope Francis, a model of decorum and adherence to tradition, could hide his cross as as gesture of good-will or apology to anyone?"

First off, the Bear is not a Trad. He's just a regular old Novus Ordo type who has been to one Latin Mass in his entire life.

And, to be fair to Pope Francis, there are times on the visit where the cross is worn exposed, and times when it is tucked out of sight into his sash. 

But here's the nearest secular analogy the Bear can come up with. You go to a bar, and your wife happens to walk in as you're chatting up a woman. She notices your wedding ring is missing. You say, "Honey, it slipped off my finger! Here it is, right in my pocket!" And let's further say it wasn't the first time.

Now your wife might believe you. Or she might not. I'll leave the answer to the ladies. I'm just a dumb old Bear.

Update IV: Moslem holy place, Dome of the Rock. Now you see it, now you don't. Accident? (There are other photos where it is visible.) Why is this pectoral jiggery-pokery relevant? Because we fear we have a pope who is capable of putting interfaith relations above respect for Jesus.


  1. Gotta tell you. Boom. Thanks for noticing this. Outrageous.

  2. It would be interesting to see how often he does this. Looks like he did something similar at the Dome of the Rock: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/27/world/middleeast/pope-francis-jerusalem.html

    Pray for the Holy Father and the bishops in the upcoming Synod

  3. Various Catholic folks are wrongly saying on the internet that Pope Francis hid his Crucifix from the Jews last week. Wrong. Francis has done several scandalous things, but I could not believe he would do THAT - hid his Crucifix from Jewish leaders.

    Therefore, today I have gone over hundreds of photos of Pope Francis wearing his crucifix. It appears the disappearing crucifix WAS an accident. I am comforted by what I found and share with you below.

    When the pope sits down, his crucifix DOES seem to slip down into his cummerbund, as shown in this very recent news
    article of his visit to Sicily, Italy : http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/22/pope-francis-warns-mafiosi-to-repent-or-end-up-in-hell
    The Pope’s crucifix is too short to slip into his cummerbund but when he sits, it seems to be more possible. Here is another photo of Francis sitting during his Dublin, Ireland visit, and the Crucifix slipped down inside his cummerbund, again. http://sandyfordparish.org/wp/?page_id=1503

    1. If you are satisfied it was an accident, then the Bear is happy for you.

  4. It seems the best argument against accident is the tightness of the fascia. I would think it is not accidental but since I don't mind the traditionalist label it pays to be sure.

    1. The Bear doesn't mind it, either, except he would hate to bring real traditionalists into disrepute.

  5. I don't buy it. A quick google of the trip yields dozens of pictures of the pope with his cross clearly visible, including this one which shows him walking with what appears to be the same rabbi:


    1. Conceded. It only takes one odd picture to raise an issue. If there are dozens of pictures of you not kissing another woman, and on if you doing so, you might find your wife unimpressed by your pictures of you not smooching it up. That seems to be the counter-argument of the day, though. Do people really believe the Pope is incapable of making such an interfaith gesture?

    2. I don't think the picture kissing/not kissing example is very similar, however. One can express passion for a woman by kissing her at intervals, it's not necessary to kiss her all the time. However, if the theory is that he his the crucifix in order to avoid offending Jews with the reminder of the crucifixion, it would seem sort of odd to walk around with it out during part of the meeting and then allow it to slip into your sash during another part. One assumes that if showing the crucifix is imaged to give offense, then showing it even part of the time would achieve the offense.

      As to "incapable"... I don't know what that would mean. People are "capable" of lots of things. But I think it would be uncharacteristic of Francis to hid a crucifix with the intention of avoiding offense to a non-Christian.

    3. Fair enough. If you believed Pope Francis' previous actions in regard to interfaith and ecumenical issues would be consistent with hiding his crucifix, you might reach a different conclusion.

      What we know is that it is tucked in his sash during a photo op, when the principles and aides normally want everyone to be "put together" as best as possible. I am satisfied that it was deliberate, although I agree that the best argument against that is it does seem inconsistent to show it sometimes, and hide it sometimes.

      If you do not believe it to be accidental, what can you say? It's a mystery. Note that this is also the time when he is going to be official photographed with different persons, some of whom might be more sensitive than others.

      Personally, I no longer believe that the "sensitivity" has been established that that is the case here, and I am leaving it at that. I have posted pictures elsewhere of Pope Benedict with his cross tucked into his sash (although his was actually attached to his front, as you can see in the pictures). I think the issue has been fairly explored here, and was worth exploring. Everyone is free to draw their own conclusions. This is not a "hate the pope" blog, although it is a "suspicious of the pope" blog.

  6. The picture of Cardinal Bergoglio with his pectoral cross tucked into his jacket pocket is not probative in this context: bishops almost universally wear their pectoral crosses in this manner when dressed in slacks-and-jacket clericals. You could go a lifetime and never see a bishop, any bishop, wearing a pectoral cross hanging freely with that garb.

    1. Fair enough. Is it common for popes to tuck their pectoral crosses into their sashes, though? That is the real question.


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