Friday, June 13, 2008

Papa Bene’s Witty Exchange with ‘W’, If Only

Patrick Lyons of the New York Times wrote a quick story of an exchange of pleasantries between President Bush and Pope Benedict XVI (emphasis mine): Seven years into his tenure, it will no longer surprise many people to hear that President Bush is not the most formality-minded person ever to hold the office. The irreverent nicknames he makes up for the people around him are legend, and it is not unusual for him to err a bit on the casual side in diplomatic encounter that, in other presidencies, might have been protocol-ed to a fare-thee-well. Even so, an eyebrow or two arched today at the way Mr. Bush addressed Pope Benedict XVI on meeting him in Rome: "Your eminence, you’re looking good," Mr. Bush said, the A.P. reported. We’re not talking about the Fernando-esque second clause, which was unobjectionably friendly if perhaps a tad over-familiar in tone. It was the "your eminence" part. That’s supposed to be how you address Catholic cardinals. Popes are "your holiness." (It isn't the first time Mr. Bush has put a foot wrong in pontifical etiquette. At a meeting last June, Mr. Bush appalled the Vatican hierarchy and created a small stir in the media by addressing the pope several times as "sir," which was taken by some as a failure to show appropriate respect, though a blunder rather than an intentional slight.) In any case, the pope evidently did not succumb today to any temptation to respond to Mr. Bush’s errant greeting with a hearty "So are you, Governor." I've heard many times that His Holiness has a sense of humor, I wonder what was in his mind in order to respond to W's inarticulationizing tone.


I sincerely doubt he cares.

It probably never crossed his mind. Though it would have been quite funny if he did respond that way don't you think?

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