Wednesday, April 24, 2013


The Pope in this movie goes crazy and disappears. Sad day.

I watched a really interesting movie a few weeks ago (the wife was out of town, so didn't see it with me) called Habemus Papam. It's a strange little Italian movie from 2011 about the election of a new Pope, who turns out to be pretty nuts and runs off. It's slow and tedious at times, but, for someone with an attention span like mine, mostly fascinating.

Anyway, I was struck by the sound and affect of the Italian word for Pope, "Papa." ("PAH-pah," not "pah-PAH" as we might say in Spanish). To my ear, and the way the actors said it, this was not just a title, they way "Pope" is in English, but a term of endearment. "Santo Papa!" "Papa!"

This is, it turns out, the very origin of the title "Pope" anyway. Important bishops of the ancient world, most notably Rome's, but also Alexandria's, were called, in Greek, "Pappas" by their people. "Pappas," of course, being the root of our word "Pope." The word is supposed to be more like "Daddy" or "Poppa" than a formal title for an office.

All of this is to say that I am finding it insufficient to call Pope Francis by what is in English a formal and stiff title. My heart is so full when I read his words or hear of what he does... I want something more like "Papa!"

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you called him big Papa.

    That is an interesting distinction though. Maybe there is something about our culture that values his position and strong, rather than endearing?