Franciscus Pontifex Adventum Cogitationes

I once asked a journalist friend why so many articles consisted of lists. He told me that Clay Felker of New York Magazine had figured out that people liked lists and had pioneered the idea.

That sounds about as good as pretty much anything else, and I have believed the explanation ever since.

Whatever the origin, such stories are now pejoratively referred to as “listicles” but they are still reliable click bait. [Insert number here] “Ways To” or “Reasons Why” or “Little Known” are among the best performing headlines on Google searches.

Latin headlines are surely among the worst, but the Pope’s visit deserves a Latin headline and besides I have not seen any others.

Few could have done worse in Latin than me, as there was very little room between my proficiency and that of a garden slug.

For those like me, the headline means Thoughts on the Visit of Pope Francis.

It is sort of an anti-listicle (which sounds like a mouth wash) because it is a list but it does not draw attention to being a list for attention-getting purposes. That definitely sounds sufficiently philosophical for observations about the Pope’s visit to the United States.

  1. WaPo has a feature called The Worst Week in Washington. It goes to whomever took the biggest image hit. This week is easy: everyone other than the Pope. By the way, that includes Xi Jinping whose visit drew a fraction of the attention.
  2. The Pope’s favorable ratings exceed the total favorable ratings of virtually everyone in Washington who worries about his or her favorable ratings. Spinners and image-makers take note.
  3. What a PR bonanza for Fiat. Somehow I doubt the Holy Father simply picked the car off the National Rental Car lot. Even the Popemobile is a Jeep, which is really a Chrysler, which is really a Fiat. Two-fer.
  4. Some part of his popularity seems to relate to leadership qualities that downplay both himself and the team for which he plays. White House Press Secretary, Joshua Ryan Henry “Josh” Earnest, please take note.
  5. Likely the Pope made it just a tiny bit easier for House Speaker John Boehner to pack it in.
  6. Unsurprisingly, the Pope prefers treaties to wars and this was surely a helper to the administration on Iran.
  7. He also prefers those who lack to those who have, so again he leans left.
  8. He welcomes immigrants and is seen to think of them as humans rather than votes.
  9. But his views on the so-called social issues are more in sync with the right.
  10. Yet in each of the last four he made both sides of the debate less threatening.
  11. On balance, the Pope provided more support to the left of our political divide than to the right, which is interesting from the head of a traditionally conservative body.
  12. For those who favor democracy, it is interesting to reflect on the idea that there are few, if any, less democratic selection processes than choosing a Pope. The Cardinals do not represent constituencies as in a republic. They are undoubtedly elites. They operate in secret. And yet it works.

There you have it Clay Felker, there is even kind of a ring to having 12 Franciscus Pontifex Adventum Cogitationes even if it is not really a listicle.

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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4 comments

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  • You suckered me in with the Latin – congitationes in Francisco pontificis adventum. Perhaps my correction gilds the lily a bit by delaying the object of the preposition to the end, but there it is, from a papist and a one-time Latinist.
    The only other quibble is that I think you underestimate the Francis effect on Boehner’s early departure.

    • I should have thought of you as one of few who would prefer a Latin headline to a listicle. I defer to you in the accuracy of the Latin as we garden slugs now choose i-translatibus for our headline writing needs. Point taken on Boehner’s departure and I fault myself for not mentioning climate change as one of his issues.

  • the feet of the poor? Low hanging fruit. Better to go to the Bohemian Grove and cleanse the filthy hands of the rich and far more rewarding.
    But every flock has a shepherd to collect the fleece, I suppose.
    The liberals have Obama, the capitalists now have a Trump card. And the populists now have a vast array of fundamentalist “republican” missionaries. Calvin Cooledge where are you?