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That explains a lot…

Francis: “I don’t go to the Doctor, I go to the Witch!”

(image: Sipa USA via AP)

[UPDATE 15-JAN-2018 21:38 UTC: Not funny! Turns out Bergoglio’s Doctor is a Taoist practicing Reiki]

Francis is currently aboard the “papal” airplane on his way to Chile and Peru, where he will spend a few days doing what he does best: talk, hug, and receive the adulation of the crowds. Speaking to the members of the press accompanying him on his trip, the “Pope” today delivered yet another contribution to our ever-growing “You can’t make this stuff up” stack of files.

Asked jokingly by Italian journalist Cristiana Caricato what the doctor prescribes him to be able to go on such long journeys, Francis gave an answer that is going to make headlines. Andrea Tornielli reports in the Italian edition of Vatican Insider:

Loud laughter accompanied the joke Francis made in answer to a question posed to him by the journalist Cristiana Caricato of TV2000, who, greeting him, asked him what the doctor gives him to be able to face such long journeys. “We want to know what the doctor gives you so that we can take it too, we who struggle just as you do” — a reference to Bergoglio’s stamina during these trips. “But I do not go to the doctor, I go to the witch!”, he said, laughing heartily.

(Andrea Tornielli, “Che medicine prendo? Vado dalla strega!”, Vatican Insider, Jan. 15, 2018; our translation.)

Yes, Francis really said this. No, this is not fake news. No, it’s not a mistranslation. And no, we don’t need 12 things to know and share so we understand what he really meant. Of course, Francis said this as a joke, that much is clear. However, even the jokes people tell can say a lot about them: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Mt 12:34).

It has to be admitted that the joke is a bit odd. One could say all sorts of witty things about (not) going to the doctor’s, or where one gets one’s physical endurance (for a Catholic: prayer and grace perhaps?). It is rather uncanny and perhaps quite telling that Francis, out of all the things he could have said, came up with witch.

Was it perhaps a Freudian slip? Was he thinking of witch doctor perhaps, after a profound meditation on the life of the Voodoo admirer “Saint” John Paul II?

John Paul II greets a Voodoo priest

Original caption: “A Mexican Indian brushes Pope John Paul II with herbs as they burn incense in a traditional cleansing ritual at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City Thursday, August 1, 2002. John Paul beatified two Mexican Indian martyrs on Thursday, proclaiming them examples of ‘how one can reach God without renouncing one’s own culture.'” (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

Or perhaps he remembered with fondness the visit at the Vatican of the representatives of indigenous peoples attending the United Nations’ Third Global Meeting of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum for Investing in Rural People organized by the International Fund Agricultural Development (IFAD)? This took place on Feb. 15, 2017, and it is then that a Pagan witch seemingly worked some sorcery on him. Recall the images released by the Vatican and the related news stories:

The last time Francis had mentioned a doctor was in August of last year, when he revealed in an interview book that in the late 1970s, he had been in therapy with a Jewish psychoanalyst for six months.

Joke or no joke, what has been going on in the Vatican since “Saint” John XXIII usurped the papal chair in 1958 is not a laughing matter.