June 10, 2007

Silly Memes #147: Bush Disrespects The Pope

It's a measure of George Bush's impact and visibility that every little action gets wide exposure and viewed outside of context. It's also a measure of his low popularity that some of these get used to paint him in the worst possible light. That appears to be the case with Bush's latest so-called gaffe -- responding to Pope Benedict with a "sir":

US President George W Bush drew gasps at the Vatican on Saturday by referring to Pope Benedict XVI as "sir" instead of the expected "His Holiness", pool reporters said.

They could clearly hear the US leader say "Yes, sir" when the pope asked him if he was going to meet with officials of the lay Catholic Sant'Egidio community at the US embassy later during his visit.

James Joyner makes the point that Bush is not Catholic, while Michael van der Galien claims that anyone addressing the Pope should use the response "Your Holiness" (not "His Holiness", as the grammar-challenged reporters of News24 would have it) out of etiquette. Both miss the point.

In reading the article, Bush responded to one question with "Yes, sir." Nowhere in this article does it say that Bush did not address Pope Benedict as "Your Holiness". In fact, he probably did it several times. Read the second paragraph carefully, and it becomes clear that Bush gave a short and respectful answer to a single direct question with the suddenly-rude "Yes, sir".

As a Catholic, I find nothing at all offensive about that. People are not required to respond to every question the Pope asks by appending "Your Holiness" to the end of the reply, as if they were recruits in an Army boot camp. "Yes, sir" shows respect for the Pope, and yes, good manners as well.


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Comments (15)

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | June 10, 2007 7:47 AM

Of the things to be critical of, this merits critique? Good God! Much ado about nothing.

Posted by armygirl | June 10, 2007 7:51 AM

Let's also not forget that President Bush is a Texan. Here in Texas we say Ma'am and Sir all the time as a sign of respect. It is ingrained in all of us. I have a hard time not using those 2 words whenever I am speaking with anyone from my boss to my best friend. He was certainly not disrespectful of the Pope.

Posted by Jeanette | June 10, 2007 8:15 AM

As a non-Catholic I see no disrepect in what the president said. He probably addressed him properly all the rest of the times he spoke to him.

If I were to see the Pope, even though I respect him, I probably couldn't bring myself to call him Your Holiness, simply because that is not my belief and what my faith teaches me. No disrespect intended, but I would probably call him Sir also.

I do call priests "Father" but I don't know why. Maybe because I don't know their names but know it's their title.

Posted by SteveGW | June 10, 2007 8:20 AM

Of course everyone should have the right - the basic human right - to have others address them using the titles that they declare themselves to deserve. I, for example, insist upon Dr. SteveGW Lord of the Hordes of Mordor

Posted by Mr Michael | June 10, 2007 8:37 AM

I wonder if the 'gasps' were because he said 'sir' or because he was actually going to visit with the folks from Sant'Egidio at the Embassy... after all, these folks are spreading Christianity, and you know how the Diplomats and the Press feel about THAT!!!

Posted by The Yell | June 10, 2007 8:38 AM

This is the worst insult to a Pontiff since a million Poles cheered "Lolek".

Posted by paul a'barge | June 10, 2007 8:43 AM

I have news for all you mackerel snappers ... Yes, sir is being respectful.

Just as I wouldn't want my state-funded university to pay for foot baths for Islamo-nutjobs, I wouldn't call some other guy who walks upright on two legs Your Holiness

If that bugs you, twitter amongst yourselves.

Posted by RD | June 10, 2007 10:51 AM

Perhaps ' His Holiness' refers to 'God's Holiness' and not your as in 'your highness ' which sounds like it should be 'you're'and is not a matter of good grammar. Oh, well, I am not a Catholic so 'Sir' sounds just fine to me. Only a guess tho.

Posted by Rhymes With Right | June 10, 2007 1:34 PM

And given where the President was raised, such a short response would be appropriate -- indeed, automatic.

I've lived here in Texas for about a decade now, and "yes, sir" and "yes, ma'am" have become second nature to me. I've even been known to use those terms towards my 10th grade students, despite being older than many of their parents (and, in my mid 40s, almost as old as some of their grandparents).

Disrespectful? Heck, no -- just a quirk of regional dialect.

Posted by Carol Herman | June 10, 2007 1:49 PM

You think God's in the building during photo-ops?

I don't.

I think Bush is extremely weak at this point. And, the Pope, "if anything," is being "nice" by meeting a "world leader." Doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

Which is the truth about most photo ops.

Gee, ya think Dubya's gonna add the Pope's meeting him to his personal collection?

When Reagan began getting sick with Alzheimer's, what was the first to go, was his understanding of just who the people were in those photographs. Heck, he didn't even recognize Deaver.


Life is all about erasures. We usually lucky enough not to notice.

But the Pope's meeting with Bush? Up there with the general waste of time that comes from pumping the hands and arms of "famous folk."

And, the press? To them the story is about holiness and sir? Those goof balls don't know the true stories even if they're hit on their heads with hammers.

But would you want to read about this visit as anything but what it really was?

Also, or the truth: NO ONE INFLUENCED THE OTHER. It was all show. Done for the world audience. Signifying NOTHING.

Posted by Burt | June 10, 2007 2:01 PM

I would like to see a complete transcript of the conversation. Just to satisfy myself that the Pope always used the properly respectful "Mr. President" faithfully thru the entire conversation with George.

Posted by rrk | June 10, 2007 9:53 PM

In today's world of ultra-sensitivity, the measure of offense is taken by the "victim".

Somebody ask His Holiness (or Sir Benedict, if you will) if he felt offended.

What's delicious about this is that most among the "offended", no doubt, see no problem with the sort of drivel that comes from the many, typically on the left, who have developed insulting the Pope to low art.

Just another example of BDS.

Posted by unclesmrgol | June 10, 2007 10:08 PM

I'm with the Captain on this. I am a Catholic and see no disrespect from President Bush toward the Pope.

And the answer to Carol's question is "Yes, I do think God was in the building during the photo op." Of course, we have from the Bible that God is capable of infinite multitasking (at least an Aleph-null order of magnitude and possibly greater).

Posted by Immolate | June 11, 2007 6:37 AM

I don't know about this "Yer Ho-leeniss" stuff, but I really wish George would refer to me properly as "Grand Poobah of Random Nefarious Ramblings". I think that "Hey dumbass, get off my lawn!" is rude.

Posted by cali_sun | June 11, 2007 10:02 AM

I find it ironic, being a christian, that a human such as the Pope is bestowed the title 'your holiness'. This title is only attributed to our Almighty God in Heaven, for he is really the Holy One. Humans by defination can never be holy, for we are all sinners, as explained in the Bible.