Monday, October 5, 2015

Is The Pope Catholic?

Last week, reading James Carroll's light yet analytical summary on the American visit of Pope Francis [re-printed here, October 1 and 2 posts], I was wondering about, how does a person who isn't Catholic know about the Pope, and about the Vatican?  Where do we hear about this person, and place?  What do we know, and when do we know it?

In Confirmation, we had a whole series of weekly classes where we were introduced to other religions and we learned about them, and how they overlapped with our own, and how they were different, & where their beliefs came from...

Then, outside church, in casual or slangy conversation, there was the expression, "Is the Pope Catholic?!" -- which you hardly ever hear anymore, but it used to be very common.  Like if someone asked a question where the answer is pretty obviously "yes," someone would respond, "Uh -- is the Pope Catholic?"

And then building on that common phrase from mid-twentieth century, the memory lighted up in my head:

in Season 3, Episode 1, of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, (1972), there was this scene which I kept remembering last week, while reading about the Pope's visit, and then was sort of validated today when I saw someone else remembered it and wrote about it -- on the Souletosoul, Daily Inspiration blog, on October 1st last week, they highlighted that episode, writing:

"It reminds me of a scene from the old Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Sometimes scenes and lines from TV shows and movies just become embedded in my brain and remain there forever. 

In this scene, there is a discussion in the news room involving the acerbic news writer Murray Slaughter and the simple and very literal newscaster Ted Baxter.  As part of the discussion Murray asks the rhetorical question (meant to indicate certainty), "Is the Pope Catholic?"

Ted responds, "I think this one is, but I'm not so sure about the one before him."  It is delivered for a laugh, but when I heard it, I saw a deeper meaning.  The pope Ted is not sure about is Pope John XXIII. 

This particular pope moved the Catholic church into new directions that were unexpected and, among some of the old guard, unwelcome. 

He convened the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) which abolished the Latin mass and put the service into the common language of the people in each country. 

It also moved the Catholic Church into ecumenical cooperation with other Christians, both Orthodox and Protestant, and accepting others as true Christians even if they were not part of the Roman Catholic Church."
------------------- [end excerpt from Souletosoul site] ---------------------

I was kind of glad to find out that other people besides me get these moments "embedded" in their brains....

I remember Ted's quote more as, "I think so, but I'm not so sure the last one was."

Either way.

And when I saw that MTM episode, I was in 7th or 8th grade, and I asked my parents, "What does that mean?"  I think I knew the expression, Is-the-Pope-Catholic -- but I did not "get" the other part about maybe the last one wasn't....And the explanation I received was the same as the one typed above, the "Vatican II" info....


Now I see Newsweek used the question "Is the Pope Catholic" as title of cover story 17 days ago. ...others thinking same thing....


No comments:

Post a Comment