A recent news story has me really angry, and I’ll tell you why; for once, because of this story, I find myself surprisingly allied with President Bush. Normally when the media takes a swing at good old Dubya, I agree with their assessment. This time, however, I can find no fault with our President, in fact I support him whole heartedly. In what has been described as “Bush’s holy gaffe”, Bush called Dr. Ratzinger “sir”. The international press has been covering the story with a good deal of incredulity, as if it is amazing that the President would refer to the head of the Roman Catholic Church as anything but the honorifics the Vatican requests.
Quite frankly, I find myself applauding Bush if his use of “sir” was intentional. The honorifics the Vatican suggests are “His Holiness” or “Holy Father”, which bear an undeniable religious connotation. Bush, as someone who is not a member of the Roman Catholic Church and who is a member of another Church, has a duty not to refer to Dr. Ratzinger using these honorifics. The terms requested by the Vatican, if used, would indicate that the user believes that Dr. Ratzinger has some sort of mandate or special position from God, something that those of us who are not members of the Roman Catholic Church do not believe. To speak something one doesn’t believe in a religious context is wrong, plain and simple.
While I respect the social and philanthropic work which the Roman Catholic Church has accomplished and applaud Dr. Ratzinger’s role as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church’s recent efforts, I must also applaud President Bush for his surprising commitment to his beliefs and his refusal to speak words that he would believe are false in a religious context. For once, I must stand up and ask the world’s press to please give President Bush a break.