Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Divine job

One of the most amusing, if not fulfilling, jobs I can imagine would be speechwriter for the pope. Let me explain. No matter what a run-of-the-mill author writes, his/her words will be appreciated (in the best of cases) by a handful of readers and denigrated by others. Concerning words to be pronounced by a pope, on the other hand, the writer can be certain beforehand that millions of listeners and readers will love the stuff, absolutely, because they consider it, a priori, as inspired and infallible words straight from the mouth of the Creator's personal representative on the planet Earth. His director of communications.

Talking of absolutely divine documents, let me display the latest specimen. It's an English translation of a fragment of the pope's Xmas address to the Roman curia gathered in the Sala Clementina on 22 December 2008:

Because faith in the Creator is an essential part of the Christian creed, the Church cannot and must not limit itself to transmitting to its faithful the message of salvation alone. It has a responsibility toward creation, and must exercise this responsibility in public as well. And in doing so, it must defend not only the earth, water, and air as gifts of creation belonging to all. It must also protect man against his own destruction. Something like an ecology of man is needed, understood in the proper sense. It is not an outdated metaphysics if the Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and asks that this order of creation be respected. In fact, this is a matter of faith in the Creator and of listening to the language of creation, disdain toward which would be the self-destruction of man, and therefore the destruction of the very work of God. What is often expressed and understood by the term "gender" is ultimately resolved in the self-emancipation of man from creation and from the Creator. Man wants to create himself, and to arrange always and exclusively that which concerns him. But this means living contrary to the truth, living contrary to the creator Spirit. Yes, the rainforests deserve our protection, but man deserves it no less, as a creature in whom a message is inscribed that does not mean the contradiction of our freedom, but its precondition.

This is excellent prose, of a journalistic kind, and I can imagine the pride of the holy ghostwriter seeing the pope's face light up when His Holiness discovered the slick but sloppy sentence: Something like an ecology of man is needed... With a tiny bit of rewriting, that sentence might have been elevated to a memorable quotation that would go down in literary history. First, I would have used the term spiritual ecology, which sounds much better, frankly awesome. Second, I would have written Man with a capital letter, in italics, to give it a scientific biological flavor.

Talking about capitals, notice the subtle way in which the rewriter jumps back and forth between the terms creation and Creator. I'll let you guess which noun refers to a familiar day-to-day process described by scientists, and which one designates the pope's special pal. Personally, I've always been so utterly awed by the amazing complexities of the archaic process that I like to spell Creation with a capital... but I now realize that this is a dangerous habit, since there are a lot of crazy folk out there who've succeeded in monopolizing the expressions Creationism and Intelligent Design to designate the accomplishments of the pope's much-celebrated magical Creator: the big old guy with a white beard up in the sky.

It's the latter part of this extract of the pope's Sala Clementina address that has stirred up shit, over the last few days, in the international gay and lesbian worlds. Read it carefully, to see what the anonymous speechwriter of His Holiness is actually saying. Here's the keystone of the literary lobbyist's subtle art:

What is often expressed and understood by the term "gender" is ultimately resolved in the self-emancipation of man from creation and from the Creator.

The euphemism "self-emancipation" means, of course, assuming one's true sexuality. So, to call a spade a spade, the pope's Xmas speech turns out to be a blatant diatribe against homosexuality. Meanwhile, I reacted spontaneously: What the bloody hell is this word "gender" doing here? Gender, as we all know, is an ancient linguistic concept concerning nouns, which are often separated into formal groups designated as either masculine, feminine or neuter. Recently, it has become fashionable to apply the term "gender" to cultural differences between creatures of the opposite sex. For example, if a little boy likes to wear his sister's clothes, you might say (if you were incapable of finding a better way of putting it) that his behavior is of a female gender. But it's totally ridiculous to fall back upon the fuzzy gender concept, in human beings, as a criterion for distinguishing between those who have a penis and those who have a vagina. That difference (both the pope and his speechwriter should know by now) is called sex, and it's all a matter of so-called X and Y chromosomes... not to mention precise differences in the form of genital organs, which even the virginal pope, with a little bit of prompting, should be able to recognize.

I wondered whether the silly intrusion of this gender term might be a translator's error. Then I made an amazing discovery. The gender word has been included, in inverted commas, in the original Italian!

Ciò che spesso viene espresso ed inteso con il termine "gender", si risolve in definitiva nella autoemancipazione dell’uomo dal creato e dal Creatore.

The plot thickens! For me, it's clear. The pope's speechwriter is almost certainly an English-speaking priest, of Italian origins, who happens to be an inhibited homosexual. He can't bring himself round to talking of sex, so he prefers to say gender... even in the middle of a papal address in Italian! There's no other way in the world to explain the sudden production of so much pontifical rubbish. There's another clue as to the identity of the pope's speechwriter. He's clearly well-informed about ecological issues in Australia, because he refers both to the pope's recent visit and to the question of saving rain forests. So, maybe he's a homosexual Tasmanian priest of Italian origins.

Now, why am I so motivated by the idea of unveiling the identity of the speechwriter responsible for the pope's spectacular gender stuff? Well, ideally, if he were unmasked, he might get sacked for professional faults... such as throwing the word gender into a pontifical address. In that case, I might then be in a position to apply for this fabulous job. Meanwhile, I love this image of our electric pope, a real man's man:

I imagine Benny's bolts of blue lightning penetrating painfully the sin-stained backsides of gender miscreants...

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