It’s only been two and a half years since Francis assumed the chair of St. Peter, yet he’s already compiled an entire dossier’s worth of . . . interesting . . . incidents.
For instance, the Holy Father seems to have a habit of appearing to endorse all sorts of left-wing political causes. There was the time he posed with environmental activists holding an anti-fracking T-shirt. And the time he posed for pictures holding a crucifix made from a hammer and a sickle. And the time he held up a poster calling for the British to hand the Falkland Islands back to Argentina. In each instance, the official Vatican response has been to suggest that Francis didn’t mean to endorse anything because he’ll pretty much smile and pick up anything you hand him, like some sort of consecrated Ron Burgundy.
But it isn’t always the spontaneous moments that cause confusion for Francis. There was a minor kerfuffle in August when an Italian gay activist, Francesca Pardi, wrote to the pope. Pardi, who is married to a woman, writes children’s books about homosexuality—you might think of her as the Italian Heather Has Two Mommies. Pardi—who is not Catholic—was upset after some Italian schools began (quite sensibly) excising her books from elementary school curricula. So she wrote to Francis to complain. And much to her surprise, she received a letter in return, from the Vatican’s secretary of State, writing on behalf of Francis. He said: