Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Champion of Insults: Pope Francis or Martin Luther?

Background and Fighters

When it comes to Christians slinging insults, two heavyweights come to mind. First, of course, is the reigning heavyweight champion of the sour science of insult. The Bear gives you the pride of Saxony, the Heresiarch of Haymakers, the Raging Bull himself: Maaaaartin Luuuuuther!

And in this corner, a real up-and-comer, and a big surprise, the Pontiff of Punching, the Argentine Bombshell, and you know what's coming! The Bear can only mean: Horhaaaaay Bergoliooooo! The 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church!

Luther started the Reformation in 1517, which split the Church under Bergoglio's predecessor, Pope Leo X. Although the two camps have tried to keep the smack talk dialed down lately, you just have to know this is a 500-year-old grudge match.

Will Luther keep the title he's held onto for half a millennium? Or will the antipodean upstart pull off an upset? There are no rules, and low blows are encouraged. So let's watch the Pope and the Heresiarch go head to head to find out who is the more insulting. The two fighters will square off over ten rounds, each with a different theme.

1. Johnny, Take That Out of Your Mouth!

Pope Francis: "Fomenter of coprophagia!"

Martin Luther: "You are like a magician who conjures gulden into the mouths of silly people. But when they open their mouths, they have horse (dung) in them!"

Bear -- the two statements are similar, but Luther's earthy clarity beats the Pope's spectacular display of vocabulary. Round One: LUTHER.

2. Say Again?

Pope Francis: "Self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagian!"

Martin Luther:  "You sophistic worms, grasshoppers, locusts and lice!"

Bear -- here the Pope's vocabulary dazzles, even if nobody understands it! Luther already looks tired in this round. Round Two: POPE FRANCIS.

3. Animal Crackers

Pope Francis: "Creed-reciting Parrot Christian!"

Martin Luther: "For you are an excellent person, as skillful, clever and versed in Holy Scripture as a cow in a walnut tree or a sow on a harp!"

Bear -- Wow! What a comeback. Pope Francis is clever, funny, and right on target, but Luther's humorous and memorable imagery demonstrates why he's the champ. Round Three: LUTHER.

4. A Few Beads Short of a Rosary

Pope Francis: "Sloth-diseased, acedic Christians!"

Martin Luther: "You people are more stupid than a block of wood!"

Bear -- Pope Francis may be getting a little cocky. He sounds like a doctor, here, and falls back into his tendency to use jargon that lacks impact. On the other hand, Luther connects with the simplest insult imaginable, but good enough to put the Pope on his heels. Round Four: LUTHER.

5. Prelates

Pope Francis: "Airport bishops!"

Martin Luther: "As for the signs of your peculiar priesthood, we are willing to let you boast of these mean things, for we know it would be quite easy to have, anoint and clothe in a long robe even a pig or a blog of wood!"

Bear -- Here we see the difference. Pope Francis lands a popping jab that's effective. But Luther just overwhelms him with an impressive combination relying once again on concrete, humorous imagery. He even slips that "block of wood" punch in again. Round Five: LUTHER.

6. Wings

Pope Francis: "There are Christian bats who prefer the shadows to the light of the presence of the Lord!"

Martin Luther: "You are a bungling magpie, croaking loudly!"

Bear -- This one comes down to bat vs. magpie. The judges are going with bat! Round Six: POPE FRANCIS.

7. Skin-Deep Christians

Pope Francis: "Christians in appearance! Made-up Christians, because when the rain comes the make-up comes off!"

Martin Luther: "You have set out to rub your scabby, scurvy head against honor!"

Bear -- two great fighters, but choices must be made. Pope Francis was very understandable this round while Luther struggled a bit with clarity. Round Seven: POPE FRANCIS.

8. Don't Let Appearances Deceive You

Pope Francis:  "Pagans with two strokes of Christian paint, so as to appear like Christians, but Pagans nonetheless."

Martin Luther: "You are an extraordinary creature, being neither God nor man. Perhaps you are the devil himself!"

Bear -- Luther is bold, as always, but may have tried too hard, here. As in last round, Pope Francis is crystal clear, and the imagery is simple and memorable. That insult is going to sting for a long time, while Luther's is something of an eye-roller. Eighth Round: POPE FRANCIS.

9. Talking Behind Your Back

Pope Francis on the "Terrorism" of Gossip: "It's the sickness of cowardly people who, not having the courage to speak directly, talk behind people's back."

Martin Luther: "You say what comes out of your mouth must be kept! I hear it. Which mouth do you mean? The ones from which the farts come?"

Bear -- Luther had Francis on the mat with this one. But the Argentine Bombshell is back on his feet. Ninth Round: LUTHER.

10. Freestyle

Pope Francis: "Children! Afraid to dance! Afraid to cry! Afraid of everything!"

Martin Luther: "You are desperate, thorough arch-rascals, murderers, traitors, liars, the very scum of the most evil people on earth! You are full of all the worst devils in Hell -- full, full and so full, that you can do nothing but vomit, blow, and throw out devils!"

Bear -- A good ending by Pope Francis. But Luther unleashes his trademark frothing-at-the-mouth insult combinations. Tenth Round: LUTHER.

And the Winner Is...

MARTIN LUTHER WINS! Luther's wild, unrefined, and even crude style of pure insult overwhelmed Pope Francis' sometimes more cerebral style. This is not to say that the Argentine Bombshell couldn't put together simple, concrete imagery when needed. Indeed, in the middle of this fight, Pope Francis looked like he might pull off an upset. Luther, though, was so over-the-top with both memorable images ("a cow in a walnut tree") and sheer crudeness, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church couldn't quite take the championship away from Luther.

Sources included the Pope Francis Little Book of Insults and the Luther Insulter, with which you may be insulted by the heresiarch himself, as well as its companion list of Luther insults. Martin Luther, though undeniably crude on occasion, was a man of his times, and we should perhaps not be so ready to judge him the same as someone of our age.

As far as Pope Francis, most of his "insults" have a point, which he makes directly, memorably and maybe with a bit of a sting. The Bear guesses they were more appropriate, or at least understandable, in their original context, rather than in a decontextualized (where have the Bear's readers seen that word before?) collection.


  1. Man, (I mean Bear), I needed that. Laugh Out Loud

    One of the many little (and big) things that got me off the Protestant reservation was the potty mouth of its founder, one Martin Luther; a small, vile man.

    The words that leave my own mouth are a barometer of the state of my soul. Same thing for those who purport to lead.

    Good one, Bear!

    1. Luther was an odd fellow. I read a book compiled solely from Protestant sources and he still comes off as a foul-mouthed loon, croaking lies and filth from the stomachs of seven devils, the first having been swallowed by the other six, each inside the next as the last finally bursts like a richly infected boil so, dripping with reeking, viscous filth, the loon utters one final blasphemy, fouls itself and dies, to be immediately consumed by worms, like Herod.

    2. Bear! You show good form yourself!

  2. The problem with the pope's insults is where they are aimed, mostly at people like me, so naturally this is a problem. Neither one of these however, can defend against The Champ, Shakespeare! His insult generator is prime. To whit:
    Thou loggerheaded muddy mottled writhled shrimp!
    Or how about:
    Thou wayward long-tongued clack-dish!
    There's no answer at all to these. I guess if you're a clack-dish, there's no coming back.

    1. Yes, at least Martin Luther was aiming a lot of his insults at the Pope, not his own followers! Pope Francis wouldn't have anything but praise and a photo op with Luther where they could trade copies of Laudato Si and the 95 Theses while grinning for the cameras.

    2. My personal fav is Winston Churchill. What set him apart from the sorrowful examples above was his eminent good will, humor and boundless intelligence.

      To Clement Atlee his political adversary: "A sheep in sheep's clothing". "A humble man, who has much to be humble about".

      Lady Nancy Astor, Parliamentarian: "If you were my husband I would poison your coffee".
      PM Winston Churchill: "If you were my wife I would drink it".

      A good man and a fine wit. Like Shakespeare, he lives on in his words.

      These others? They're just mean.

    3. Yes, those are beautiful in their way. It is always better to actually be clever.

  3. Pope Francis now has his own insult generator:

  4. It seems like Francis just hates believing Catholic.

  5. Thanks Bear. Pope Francis and Martin are pair with many similarities as in addition to the vile insults hurled at others. They both are mental cases suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. They both seem to believe that we are saved by faith only. Pope Francis implies from his neo-pelagian accusations aimed at orthodox Catholics that sinners should rely on God's mercy, only, and needn't worry about repentance for salvation.

    Every day Pope Francis becomes more like Martin Luther who said: “”God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong (sin boldly), but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.”

    And perhaps the worst part is that both are schismatics: Luther actual and Pope Francis potential.

    1. I do think Francis is more like Martin Luther than any other Pope in recent times. He's a reformer in his own mind, too. He hates what he views as "legalism" in his own mind ("a little bread and wine do no harm;" "mercy," etc.) and, like Luther, his statements sometimes smack of antinomianism.

      At the same time, I think both men were given to colorful, extemporaneous statements on serious matters that overwhelm, and possibly even distort the point they are trying to make.

      As I said elsewhere, the biggest difference is that at least Luther was insulting his enemies. Pope Francis is insulting toward Catholics! (Although to be fair, it seems that Pope Francis has learned to curb his tongue. However, his statements to Scalfari (I believe them) are not slips, but quite calculated to move the needle on those issues.)

      Fortunately for me, Catholics and Lutherans both believe that God saves sinners as a general proposition, although He has established the sacrament of Penance to return to rightness with God and reestablish the state of grace.

  6. #1 is just too wierd to be funny. Who uses a word like that? Seriously? I looked it up and felt the need to shower and gargle with salt. May God raise up a huskey Dominican to smote the clown jesuit.

  7. Luther also said:

    “Almost every night when I wake up the devil is there and wants to dispute with me. I have come to this conclusion: When the argument that the Christian is without the law and above the law doesn’t help, I instantly chase him away with a fart.” (Martin Luther, Table Talk, 469)

    “I was frightened and thought I was dreaming, it was such a thunderclap, such a great horrid fart did the papal ass let go here! He certainly pressed with great might to let out such a thunderous fart—it is a wonder that it did not tear his hole and belly apart! If I were to ask here, ‘But what did all the other apostles, especially St. Paul, pasture?’ perhaps the big fart of the papal ass will say that maybe they pastured rats, mice, and lice, or, if it went well, sows, just so that the papal ass remains the shepherd, and all apostles swineherds.” (Martin Luther, Against The Roman Papacy an Institution of the Devil, 1545)

    1. In the interest of fair play, Lutherans might object that Table Talk quotes are not always legitimate. I'm not saying that, just passing along a common defense.

    2. Not sure why they wouldn't be legitimate but check out that other quote from Against The Roman Papacy an Institution of the Devil. Luther clearly had an obsession with scatalogical talk so I don't doubt their authenticity :)

    3. You're right, just voicing a defense fwiw since I doubt many Lutherans visit. The Bear is fair.

    4. Wow. If any of us said that we would be considered vulgar and base. The benefit of no social media.

  8. You may find the following interesting:

    Particular attention should be paid to the last line and the first 8 comments or so.


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