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That impromptu exorcism again

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | May 22, 2013

Yesterday I remarked on the apparent inability of some Vatican reporters to distinguish between an exorcism and a blessing. Only later did I come across this priceless headline in the English tabloid, The Sun:

Exorcism? Pope Francis caught on video performing strange ritual on fan

Exorcism might fairly be called a “strange” ritual, in the sense that it is unfamiliar to most people. But again, what the photos actually show is not a strange ritual but a simple blessing.

Maybe the Pope was praying that the afflicted young man might be freed from some sort of spiritual bondage. We don’t know. But look at the faces of the other people in the photos. Do they look as if they’re experiencing something extraordinary? No.

Pumping drama into the story, the Sun reports: “The Pontiff then grips the top of the subject’s head firmly and is seen pushing him down into his wheelchair.” Take another good look at the photo. Is that how you would stand, if you wanted leverage so that you could push down firmly? No.

One more thing. Notice that in that Sun headline, the young man in the wheelchair is identified as a “fan”—as if the Pope is a pop star, and a papal audience is a performance akin to a concert or a ballgame. But if a reporter or headline-writer turned in such a clueless description of a concert or a ballgame, even at the Sun the editor would laugh out loud.

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