During his weekly sermon from the Vatican on Sunday, Pope Francis accidentally cursed at his audience by using profanity. Even though he immediately corrected himself, a video of the gaffe on Youtube went viral. Many Italian websites with comments about the sermon have received millions of hits. Pope Francis to his credit retained his composure and continued to deliver his sermon.The root cause for this mistake seems to be that Pope Francis who hails originally from Argentina, was not a native Italian speaker. Instead of using the word ‘caso,’ which would have meant ‘in this case,’ or ‘as an example,’ he uttered ‘cazo,’ which in Italian has at least three translations which vary from f***!, d***!, and s***!. The Pope’s mistake was nothing more than a simple mispronunciation that wouldn’t have occurred if he had delivered this sermon in his native Spanish.
Despite this honest mistake, there was a solid message in the Pope’s sermon for not only the large crowd that had braved the rain and huddled under their umbrellas around the Vatican square but also for the millions of online viewers who paid particular interest after this news had broken out. Speaking from a podium perched from his apartment window, Pope Francis urged for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Ukraine where every political faction would work together to resolve their differences for the benefit of the country.
He spoke of the urgent need for world peace and stated that he would “make a heartfelt appeal to the international community to support every initiative on behalf of dialogue and harmony. He would speak of the need to be charitable in our deeds and in spirit because “A heart full of longing for possession is a heart empty of God.” He reminded everyone how Jesus would chastise the rich for seeking security from their wealth and how this unworthy way of living deprived people from the true wealth of God’s salvation.
It was at this point when Pope Francis accidentally cursed during his sermon by saying “cazo” in Italian leaving at least some mischievous listeners to wonder which of the three common expletives he may have meant. The most widely reported version was that the Pope dropped the F bomb and said “In this f***!,” instead of “In this case, the providence of God is made visible as a gesture of solidarity.” What was a small mistake which invariably had to attract the attention of millions because of the Pope’s universal stature of piety has been either completely ignored or shrugged off by his followers.
The tone of most Facebook comments who responded were mostly forgiving and explanatory. Many would highlight this gaffe as a very common mistake that most non native Italian speakers continue to make, because these two words are phonetically similar. Pope Francis’s ardent followers were not disappointed when the Vatican chose to not comment on his gaffe and there has been no alarming sense of scandal. This could only be because the Pope has spent the vast majority of his clerical life making a powerful case for peace, harmony, charity and the importance of human solidarity when it comes to doing good in this world. Pope Francis has had far too many successful and inspirational sermons for any of his followers to seriously believe that he intentionally tried to hail profane curses during his last sermon. This could be only be the subject of blasphemous satire!
By Unni K. Nair