Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mystery of the Papal Pectoral

What is clear is that there are pictures where Pope Francis has tucked his cross into his sash. The Bear is satisfied this could not happen by accident as a "wardrobe malfunction." Yet there are indeed photos where the cross is not hidden. How that is supposed to erase the photos where he does have the cross hidden is not stated, though.

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
So while the motivation is a mystery, the fact is indisputable, and scandalous. Or are we now saying it is okay for the Pope to hide his cross sometimes and leave the faithful to wonder? The Bear thinks what he thinks, but will give the Pope the benefit of public doubt in light of the ambivalent nature of the evidence.

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


  1. I don't think your suspicions are unwarranted. And I don't think it is a wardrobe malfunction-- a term I used to highlight its unlikelihood.

    My last comment over at my post linking to yours:

    "The pre-tucking of the cross seems very likely, in light of the relative snugness of the fascia, and the later photo which shows the cross visible. It would be difficult for a cross to slip into the fascia when in the act of sitting, but I can more easily see it stippling out when later standing up."

  2. In other words, I thing the photos of the visible cross are simply images of the state of his attire after the act of standing. Thus, the hiding was almost certainly intentional (whatever the motivation) and the uncovering probably unintentional. That agrees with your earlier reading of things. But, as you say, and as I did over at my blog, giving the benefit of the doubt is one way to do it.

    Bad times for the papacy, bad times for us.

  3. The Bear appreciates you not hanging him out to dry ;-) He still has his doubts, but it is a serious matter, and we should give the Pope the benefit of the doubt in public. Once again, the fact that we are even discussing this says sad volumes, doesn't it?

  4. hit it.

    Bear, thanks for showing is the constant drip drip drip that shows a pattern....he continues to deny Christ as Christ revealed Himself. This pope is a grave punishment and tribulation to the Body of Christ....unlike any, I believe, that has ever come before.

  5. Well, as the Bear says for the hundredth time, come October he will have to show his true colors, although the very fact that the bishops are gathering in synod to discuss matters of doctrine is troubling enough.


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