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March 14, 2013

Tracking Pope Francis: Rockin’ the Modest

Archbishop Bergoglio foot washing

Dear Pope Francis,

Congrats, you’re off to a flying start. So desperate is the media for a worldwide political celebrity (Obama still bringing it, but not exactly a fresh face), you could be the man. You’ve got a brilliant opportunity here, especially with Argentinians reacting to winning the Papacy like it was the World Cup, nationalism (and an up-and-coming hemisphere) being the perfect fuel right now to propel you into orbit. If the hardline conservatism is a bit too Benedict-ish, we’re certainly hooked on the social compassion and, for the time being at least, you’ve got our attention.

We know we got hung up a bit by the photos of you mixing it up with Kirchner, but it was good to dispense with that early, no? One day out, by the way, we notice that the file photo of you washing the foot of the parishioner is circulating nicely.

St. Peter's Pope Francis

And then, what an elegantly simple act on the balcony, forsaking the platform and establishing yourself, instead, at the same level as your former peers.

Cardinal Bergoglio St Peter s

Finally, did you see the shot the AP captured of you walking through St. Peters for the Cardinal’s meeting? I’d call it a triple. Highlighting your humility (and distain for private transportation), we see you out there walking the walk. Then, because it was taken before the Pope-picking was fully underway, it showcases you the way you like — as a mere civilian. Finally though, you also benefit from the divine twist, the colleague getting handled by a gust from Mother Nature while you remain largely protected … likely by the hand of God.


The Bag

(photo 1: Tony Gomez/Reuters caption: The archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, washes the feet of a unidentified woman on Holy Thursday at the Buenos Aires’ Sarda maternity hospital on March 24, 2: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters caption: Pope Francis appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica shortly after being chosen to lead the Roman Catholic Church.. photo 3: Andrew Medichini / AP. caption: Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, left, holds on to his umbrella next to Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as they walk in St. Peter’s Square after attending a cardinals’ meeting at the Vatican on March 6, 2013.)

  • aSouthernMan

    Wow. Not that The Bag is biased or anything, but “Best,” what?

    • BooksAlive

      Bloggers frequently sign off an email with “Best,” – as in “Best wishes,”

  • bystander

    Brilliant, Michael. Sincerely.

    Managing the reputation of the institution by making sure the demonstrations of the institutions best attributes – embodied by its most public face – are captured and emphasized…. despite all the ugly, rotten, decomposing failings that hang around that institution’s neck.

    And, the Pope-paparazzi, er, press are there to help. The saccharine in that second photo makes my teeth ache. It’s hard not to imagine the slightest smirk on that left-most cardinal’s face. Don’t I see the smallest lift in the corner of his mouth, and despite the bow of his glasses, isn’t there a bit of a tug around the skin of that eye? Dunno. Something about his “presence” (presentation) doesn’t seem to quite fit.

  • bks3bks

    Still a conservative, old white man, no matter what the optics.


    • jonst

      Over under was 5 comments before the race card was played.

  • maveet

    Washing feet??? With her newly-issued rubber thongs, he doesn’t really need to touch those feet. Reminds me of someone *washing* clean pots and pans.

    • bresson2

      The foot-washing is part of the ritual in the Holy Thursday service. It certainly makes him look good to be doing that – but the role of foot-washer (i.e., Jesus) is always taken by a priest. So the stage management is actually built in to the ritual, aided of course by an approving visual treatment by the photographer. At least viewers familiar with the service understand that level of artifice underlying the image. Ryan’s soup kitchen lie is far more offensive, as we were led to believe he was doing an actual social good (not taking part in a proscribed church ritual), when in fact he was stopping by after the place was closed for the day and fake-washing a clean plate.

  • bks3bks

    And the age and gender cards. It was a three-fer.


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