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Condemned by St. Pius X, loved by Francis!

Dirty Dancing meets Fake News:
Vatican News spreads false claim Pope St. Pius X approved of the Tango

On May 29, 1954, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, Pope Pius X (r. 1903-1914), was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XII, who fixed his annual liturgical feast day on September 3.

Even in the Vatican II Sect, St. Pius X retains a feast day, although the false pope Paul VI moved it to August 21. Being the mauler of Modernists and thus the archenemy of the Vatican II religion, especially “Pope” Francis, St. Pius X is rarely talked about in the New Church. On the 100th anniversary of his holy death — on Aug. 20, 2014 — there were exactly zero celebrations in the Vatican, although the Novus Ordo bureaucrats never miss a beat when it comes to recalling any event, no matter how insignificant or ludicrous (for instance, they just began a year-long anniversary celebration commemorating five years of Francis’ eco-encyclical Laudato Si’).

When St. Pius X is mentioned by the Roman Modernists — they cannot avoid him completely, after all — it is usually in the context of him having been a reformer of the Church. While that is undoubtedly true — for example, he lowered the age for First Holy Communion to the age of reason and encouraged frequent, even daily, reception of Communion — Pius X’s reforms have nothing to do with what today’s Modernists have been peddling as the “Great Renewal” of Vatican II.

The Holy Pontiff’s reform program arose from his zealous stated intent (and papal motto) to “restore all things in Christ” (see Encyclical E Supremi; cf. Eph 1:1o). This stands in marked contrast to the Novus Ordo revolution of our times, which, if anything, seeks to restore all things in man, especially now in Masonic “human fraternity”.

Thus, while it was a surprise to see the Italian edition of the official Vatican news outlet publish a substantial article on St. Pius X last week, it was not surprising to see that its overall theme was that of Pius X as reformer of the Church, as the headline makes clear:

The article, which speaks well of St. Pius X, is based on an interview Vatican News did with Italian historian Gianpaolo Romanato.

Over at Crux, Vaticanist John Allen published an English-language summary and commentary on it, noting that

…there’s a specific reason for Francis and his team to be partial to Pius X: He revoked ecclesiastical sanctions for the tango, the salacious dance forever associated with Francis’s native Argentina, which at the time was being introduced into Europe and raising hackles among some disapproving Catholic souls.

(According to historian Gianpaolo Romanato, after seeing an exhibition of the tango, Pius X announced that while he preferred the furlana, a dance named for the northeastern Italian region of Friuli, he saw no great sin in the Argentine import.)

(John L. Allen, Jr., “Pius X a reminder that Vatican reform isn’t a political animal”, Crux, Aug. 23, 2020)

Upon reading this, we knew right away that we couldn’t let this claim go unrefuted. There is absolutely no way that this great and sainted Pope could possibly have approved of the Tango. Never!

For people unfamiliar, the Tango is an extremely lewd dance. The partners dance in very close physical proximity, to say the least, and its more characteristic moves are very suggestive of the act that is proper to the married. The illustration below is the least offensive we could find that hints at how this dance is carried out. It is a lot worse than what is shown there, but modesty forbids us from sharing more explicit images.

Thus, anyone even remotely familiar with Pope St. Pius X (hint: he’s a saint!) can infer that claims that he “revoked ecclesiastical sanctions for the tango” because he “saw no great sin” in it, is definitely fake news. There is simply no other way to put it.

At the same time, we do not blame John Allen here, who is merely reporting on what the historian consulted by Vatican News said. And even the historian should not be faulted completely, because newspapers were filled with the same story on Jan. 28, 1914, namely, that Pope Pius X had had a couple dance the Tango in front of him so he could make a moral judgment concerning it. After witnessing it, so the story goes, the Pope thought there was no serious danger to morals in it, but on account of its choreographic difficulty, he recommended they dance the Venetian Furlana instead.

Thus, the newspapers carried headlines such as: “Pope believes Tango is not objectionable” (Edmonton Journal in Alberta, Canada, on page 2). In the U.S., The Washington Times had: “Pope Sees Tango, Calls Dance Sad and Gloomy” as a headline (page 7), and on its front page, The Indianapolis Star wrote: “Pope Thinks Tango is Gloomy; Prefers Venetial ‘La Furlana'”.

All reports that day told the same story because they all relied on the same article published in the Paris-based Le Temps by a Vatican-based journalist, as they themselves acknowledged:

Le Temps causes a sensation by publishing news concerning the Pope and the tango that arouses enthusiasm among the dowagers and the great ladies who give tone to Parisian society.

According to the Vatican correspondent, Pope Pius has made a thorough investigation of reasons that induced the Vicar of Rome and other ecclesiastics to issue inhibitions against the tango.

Pope Piux [sic] X received two young members of the pontifical aristocracy, a prince and his cousin, a princess, who in a strictly private audience danced the tango.

The Pope regarded the women [sic] with astonishment, and said:

“Well, my children, you don’t seem to get much fun out of it. It is a sad and gloomy dance.”

But before allowing the couple to go away, embarrassed as they were with the pontifical irony, the Pope said:

“There is no reason why you should not dance to your heart’s content, but instead of adopting these ridiculous barbarian contortions, why don’t you dance that delightful Venetian dance that I often saw in my youthful days and which is at once elegant, merry, and graceful. It is called ‘La Furiana [sic].'”

(“Pope Sees Tango, Calls Dance Sad and Gloomy”, The Washington Times, Jan. 28, 1914, p. 7)

This news was astonishing also because just two weeks prior, Pius X’s Vicar General for the diocese of Rome, Cardinal Basilio Pompilj, had condemned the Tango on the Pope’s behalf — and in no uncertain terms:

Cardinal Basillo Pompili, Vicar General of Rome, representing the Pope, has issued a pastoral letter denouncing the tango and also certain newspapers, theatrical performances, and fashions, which, he declares, are perverting souls. The Cardinal says:

“The tango, which has already been condemned by illustrious Bishops, and is prohibited even in Protestant countries, must be absolutely prohibited in the seat of the Roman Pontiff, the centre of the Catholic religion.”

He urges the clergy courageously to raise their voices “in defending the sanctity of Christian usages against the dangers threatening and the overwhelming immorality of the new paganism.”

He warns parents that if they do not protect their children from corruption they will be guilty before God of failure in their most sacred duties.

(“Pope denounces the ‘New Paganism'”, The New York Times, Jan. 16, 1914, p. 4)

Similarly, news from the Vatican in late December of 1913 had already made clear that dancing the Tango was not permitted for moral reasons:

Strenuous efforts made by the Vatican to suppress the tango dancing mania in Italy have proved a failure. Following the example of Rome, there was issued throughout the country a circular giving instructions to the clergy to initiate a crusade against the tango and similar dances as “offensive to the purity of every right-minded person and unworthy of being introduced into houses and receptions attended by Catholic women.”

(“Tango Defeats Vatican”, The New York Times, Dec. 27, 1913, p. 1)

So, how do we explain this discrepancy? How is it that the Vatican is clearly opposed to the Tango and the Pope’s Vicar General issues a condemnation of the dance for the diocese of Rome on the Pope’s behalf, and then two weeks later, we hear the Pope has no big problem with the salacious moves and encourages people to “dance to [their] hearts’ content”?

The answer lies in the fact that the story published by the Vatican correspondent in Le Temps was a canard. In today’s terminology, we would say it was fake news. The journalist had simply made it up! Not a word of it was true!

Mere days after the fake news story went around the world, newspapers were printing the Vatican’s denial. The following was published by The Evening Sun in Baltimore, Maryland:

There was no surprise here today at the complete refutation by the Vatican of the story that Pope Pius saw the tango danced in his private apartments, saw nothing wrong with it and recommended the Venetian furlana to tangoers.

“The story is so inconceivably absurd that it does not need a denial,” says a statement from the Vatican.

Pope Was Never Interviewed.

The statement is to the effect that the Pope was never interviewed by anyone in regard to the tango.

The matter of this particular dance was left to the discretion of the various bishops who have explicitly alluded to modern fashionable dancing, and this, of course, included all dances which are equally objectionable and immoral as the tango.

The statement continues:
“The recent attempts to revive obsolete Venetian dances here as a pretext to hide the tango under an old name with the object of evading the condemnation of such dances are obviously not approved or encouraged by the Pope.

Stories Are Called Ridiculous.

“The Pope’s exalted position, well-known piety, old age and unaffected dignity, which inspire the veneration of the world, render unnecessary a denial of the ridiculous stories of his recommending the furlana to replace the tango and of allowing his servants to dance in his presence.

“The story is so inconceivably absurd that it does not need a denial. Representatives of the Holy See aborad are authorized, however, officially to deny the stories, if they think fit, that the Pope encourages the furlana, which is a vulgar peasant dance, consisting of violent hopping movements, accompanied by slapping of the thighs. The nuncio at Vienna has already denied the stories.

“The Pope deplores the action of dancing teachers in using his name to advertise the furlana, which is replacing the tango, on the pretext that it has been approved by the Pope.”

Will Denounce Modern Dances.

“In his allocution to the forthcoming consistory the Pope will denounce the modern dances which are perverting the morals of the people. He will deplore the insults of his person and the attempts to cast ridicule on Christ’s vicar.

“The Pope recently said that the loyalty and obedience of Catholics and the respect of a majority of non-Catholics consoled him and he trusted in Providence that all right-minded Christians would unite in combating the prevailing wave of immorality which threatens to submerge the world.

“He prays night and day that his last years might not be embittered by the thought that the world was menaced by a new paganism.”

(“Vatican Declares Tango Story False”, The Evening Sun, Feb. 3, 1914, p. 9; bold print given.)

How refreshing to hear such dignified, clear-minded, and straightforward talk from the Vatican — and nothing about fraternity, human dignity, or migrants!

Two years later, the Catholic periodical Fortnightly Review, published in St. Louis, Missouri, included a bit more information on the Papal Tango Hoax, revealing that the intent of the lying journalist had been to assure great publicity for the lewd dance, which at the time was still in its infancy:

It was not the late Father Phelan, who so strangely lauded and defended the tango in the Western Watchman, but a French newspaper correspondent who invented the story that that objectionable dance was approved by Pope Pius X. “A French journalist one day deliberately invented the story that Pius X, wishing to be assured of the character of this dance, had it danced in his presence by a marquis and a marchioness of the Roman nobility. The news was telegraphed everywhere; it was denied, reaffirmed, embellished with details, and the tango had an advertisement quite unparalleled, which was exactly what the shameless liar who invented the story wanted.” (Rome, Vol. 19, No. 20).

(Fortnightly Review XXIII, n. 13 [July 1, 1916], p. 202)

As the Vatican statement said, the hoax was so absurd that it really did not need a denial. Saint Pius X, who as bishop of Mantua banned his priests from riding bicycles because he thought it made them look silly, most certainly disapproved of the Tango.

It is an irony of history that the Tango originated in Argentina, more specifically in Buenos Aires. During his time as a nightclub bouncer, Jorge Bergoglio (“Pope” Francis) no doubt had many opportunities to see it performed, or perhaps he even danced it himself.

And wouldn’t you know it: In a 2010 interview as “Cardinal-Archbishop” of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio announced how much he loves the immoral dance:

[Interviewers:] Do you enjoy tango?

[Bergoglio:] Very much so. It’s something that comes from within. I consider myself quite knowledgeable on the two ages of tango….

(Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti, Pope Francis: His Life in His Own Words: Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio [New York, NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2014]; pp. 152-153; formatting given. This book had been originally published in Spanish in 2010 under the title El Jesuita [“The Jesuit”].)

That it should come from deep inside of him, is not hard to believe, considering what else we must infer is lurking there, based on what we’ve seen emanate from him since he moved into the Casa Santa Marta in Vatican City.

Indeed, Francis loves Tango so much that he doesn’t even mind a little liturgical Tango during the Novus Ordo worship service. Remember?

As to the question why Francis loves the Tango, perhaps his copious Jewish influence has something to do with it:

Rabbi Jacob Nieto, addressing the Congregation Sherith Israel to-day, warmly recommended the tango and kindred dances.

“The old padres in the early days of the California missions were wise men,” said the rabbi. “Every Sunday afternoon they let the people dance, and watched them while they did so. In the Middle Ages the Jewish rabbis had the young people dance every Sunday afternoon in the presence of the parents and all enjoyed it.

“What we need is more common sense and less theology. The tango, danced by cultured persons, is beautifully pleasing; by the awkward it appears vulgar. You can take a religious ceremony and make it a farce.”

(“Rabbi Praises Tango”, The New York Times, Jan. 26, 1914, p. 7)

Whatever the case may be, however, it is certain that Bergoglio did not come to approve of the Tango by emulating or hearkening to Pope St. Pius X.

Before we conclude this post, we must briefly return to John Allen’s report and take objection to a misleading claim he makes about Pope Benedict XV, namely:

Francis seems more in sync with Pius X’s successor, Benedict XV, who basically ended the anti-modernist crackdown in his first encyclical, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum.

“Let each one freely defend his own opinion, but let it be done with due moderation, so that no one should consider himself entitled to affix on those who merely do not agree with his ideas the stigma of disloyalty to faith or to discipline,” he wrote.

(Allen, “Pius X a reminder that Vatican reform isn’t a political animal”)

A quick check of Pope Benedict’s encyclical shows that the context in which he was speaking was one of opinions regarding matters that have not yet been decided by the Church — by no means was the newly-elected Pope suggesting that the Church’s condemnation of Modernism was debatable:

As regards matters in which without harm to faith or discipline — in the absence of any authoritative intervention of the Apostolic See — there is room for divergent opinions, it is clearly the right of everyone to express and defend his own opinion. But in such discussions no expressions should be used which might constitute serious breaches of charity; let each one freely defend his own opinion, but let it be done with due moderation, so that no one should consider himself entitled to affix on those who merely do not agree with his ideas the stigma of disloyalty to faith or to discipline.

(Pope Benedict XV, Encyclical Ad Beatissimi, n. 23; underlining added.)

There are, then, no “Modernist Catholics”: There are Modernists, and there are Catholics — and you can guess which category Francis falls into.

And by the way: As Archbishop Giacomo della Chiesa of Bologna, Pope Benedict XV, too, condemned the Tango.

Image sources: own composite with elements from vaticannews.va, shutterstock.com, and Wikimedia Commons / shutterstock.com / newspapers.com (screenshot)
Licenses: fair use and paid and public domain / paid / fair use

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