Trump, The Pope and The Popularity of Crudity

We know Donald Trump can be a bit crude at times.

But, hey, so can Pope Francis.

First, I should mention that Trump recently made favorable remarks about the pope—who will be visiting the U.S. next month—during an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo. From The Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Trump … said he liked the pope and that he ‘seems like a pretty good guy,’ …[and] added: ‘I don’t think the pope is opposed to capitalism, by the way.’”

Now back to the crudity angle.

Part of me gets a big kick out of Trump’s sometimes-crude retorts to his critic’s questions and assertions. One could be tempted to say, “Hey, we’re not electing a pope here.” And that’s true. Yet even the pope—the current pope, to be clear—is not beyond using crudity to make a point.

He made the headline-producing “be like rabbits” comment (which was slightly crude) earlier this year. A far more blatant example was a statement he made during an interview with Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli in 2012, when then-Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio said: “Journalists sometimes risk becoming ill from coprophilia and thus fomenting coprophagia: which is a sin that taints all men and women, that is, the tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive aspects.

Catholic author and journalist Randy Engel pointed out that “the term ‘coprophilia’ … refers to a sexual perversion (fetish) by which a person derives sexual excitement from the presence of feces. The term ‘coprophagia’ pertains to the actual act of eating excrement.”

Yes, context is important. Obviously the soon-to-be-pope wasn’t endorsing a deviant sexual act. Still, he apparently didn’t mind using those very crude terms in the interview. He made his point in rather blunt, if technically clinical, terms.

Crudity—at least, a certain degree of it—seems quite effective nowadays. It’s not my style, though. I like to be refined and, well, nice.

And, yes, I do know where nice guys finish.   

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He’s been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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