Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Catholics Shouldn't Breed Like Rabbits? Mistranslating the Pope Yet Again

The secular media is at it once more. The headlines scream: "Pope Declares that Catholics Shouldn't Breed like Rabbits!" Not so! As always, the problem is in the translation, promulgated by the secular media and abetted by those "Catholics" hostile to the Pope in certain conservative and radical traditionalist circles. Your humble Italian speaker at Mahound's Paradise, with help from Mark Shea and the experts at the Catholic Culture website have translated the full Italian text of the Pope's most recent interview. Did the Pope contradict traditional Catholic teachings? Of course not. But read the actual translation and judge for yourself (actual translation in bold).

These are the Pope's own words, recorded in an interview on his personal airplane, flying from Manilla to Rome on January 19th:

Media Version: (To the journalists) First of all I greet you: good day, thank you for your work. It is beautiful, and thank you very much for what you have done.

Actual Translation: Okay, guys, I’m going to do another impromptu interview. Everyone scoot in. No, closer. Yes, there’s a seat right there, Signorina. Alberto’s not using it. Alberto: could you get me another cocktail, please?

(In reply to a question about the Church’s position on contraception against the background of poverty in the Philippines):

Media VersionThe position of the Church was reiterated in the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. Among other things it takes issue with the Neo-Malthusian position on population control, popular in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Actual Translation: The Church's position was reaffirmed in the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. Among other things it challenges the neo-Malthusian population control theories, popular in the 1960s and 1970s. That encyclical was okay but quite frankly, I could have written a better one. I am the only Pope in a hundred years with the humility to write good encyclicals.

Media VersionHowever, this does not signify that the Christian must make children in series.

Actual Translation: Does that not signify something? Well, some said this eldest of a series of five Christian children from the barrio would never make it. 

Media VersionI just reprimanded a mother with seven children for having another one. It’s an irresponsibility.

Actual Translation: By way of illustration, let me tell you a little story. When I was a child growing up in Buenos Aires, while the other kids were playing outside, I would usually be indoors with the shades drawn watching The Seventh Seal* over and over again. You know, that great movie with Max von Sydow? They made fun of me for that, even said I was (the Pope leans in closer), you've heard the term I'm sure, "loco" (laughter from the journalists). And they chided my mother for being an irresponsible parent in allowing this. But seventy years later, I’m Pope. Who’s laughing now?

Media VersionCatholics should speak of responsible parenthood.

Actual Translation: Where’s Alberto with my drink? If he doesn’t bring it soon, he’s going to get a punch. (Laughter from the journalists. The Pope pantomimes a punch.)

Media VersionHow do we do this? With dialogue.

Actual Translation: How can we insure that Catholics act responsibly? They should talk with their pastors more and not just fly out of church when Mass is over. Ah, there it is. Thank you, Alberto.

Media VersionEach person with his pastor should seek how to best live out responsible parenthood.

Actual Translation: But given some of the dry homilies I’ve heard, it’s a wonder more people don’t leave in the middle. The Faith is not just a bunch of rules, you know. You really have to feel it.

Media VersionGod gives you methods to be responsible.

Actual Translation: Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

Media VersionSome think--excuse the language--that in order to be good Catholics, we have to breed like rabbits. No.

Actual Translation: Now, as a celibate priest, born and bred in the Church, I’m not exactly an expert on this (laughter from the journalists). But I’m told by doctors that in order to find out if you’re pregnant, you can just inject some of your… Alberto, what’s the word in Italian? Well, you know what I mean, just inject it into a rabbit. That’s how to be sure, No? Your pastor can explain these things to you.

Media VersionThis is clear and that is why in the church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors.

Actual Translation: You can join a marriage group with your pastor.

Media VersionOne can search; and I know so many ways that are licit and that have helped this.

Actual Translation: Or you can even Google it. But make sure not to look at any naughty pictures.

Media VersionYou did well to ask me this.

Actual Translation: Proselytism is solemn nonsense, but who am I to judge?

*After one reporter noted that The Seventh Seal was released in 1957, when the Pope would have been twenty-one years old, the Vatican issued a clarification, saying that what Pope Francis meant to say was that he enjoyed reading the Book of Revelation while in Seminary. The clarification also noted that Vatican doctors had given the Pope a clean bill of mental health at his regular checkup, three months ago.

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