Bush Disses the Pope to His Face – Twice

Papal bull: Hard to find the good guy in this one. During his visit with Pope Benedict XVI Saturday, Pres. George W. Bush twice addressed the pope disrespectfully by using an improperly casual honorific:

Maybe George Bush heard the rumors that Pope John Paul II believed he was the Antichrist.

“Good to be with you, sir,” Bush said. (Italian journalists immediately noted the breach in protocol: The pope is formally to be addressed as “Your Holiness.”)…

The two leaders also exchanged gifts; Bush’s presents included a walking stick engraved by a formerly homeless man with words and images of the Ten Commandments.

“The Ten Commandments?” Benedict asked.

Bush replied: “The Ten Commandments, yes, sir.”

Imagine the brouhaha if a normal president — especially a Democrat — had made a similar faux pas. I’ve seen nothing about it on TV today, and don’t expect to. Besides, in the unlikely event a controversy brews, Bush-lovers and their running dogs in the media will write it off as just his usual muddling.

And yet it is unfathomable, or should be, that a thorough briefing on papal protocol was not fresh in his mind when he entered the room.

Why would Bush deliberately insult the pope? During the president’s European trip three years ago this month, Benedict’s predecessor and ally, Pope John Paul II, called Bush to Rome, forcing an unprecedented change in the presidential schedule, in order to deliver a public scolding over the war in Iraq and, particularly, the torture of prisoners by U.S. forces at the Abu Grahib prison. Adding sting to the slap was the fact it came a few months after Bush had bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom, his highest honor, on John Paul. (The nerve.)

It’s also possible Bush heard the rumors that John Paul was said to believe he is the Antichrist.

Update: Trish spotted this via WTFBush in holy gaffe

US President George W Bush drew gasps at the Vatican on Saturday by referring to Pope Benedict XVI as “sir” instead of the expected “His Holiness”, pool reporters said…

On his way to see the 80-year-old pontiff, the US leader apparently recognised someone he knew, and could be heard greeting the person with a casual “How ya doin’?”

The pool reporters also noted Bush’s relaxed posture, crossing his legs “Texan style” while facing the pope across his desk in the private study of the apostolic palace.


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  • DrJazz
    June 10, 2007 - 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Well big whup. If there’s anything in this world more dangerous and arrogant than Bush and his enablers, it would have to be
    the Church, in all its forms. Having to call some guy who rose up through the church organization “your holiness” is just nuts. He’s not holy. He’s just a guy in a dress who suffers from the delusion that he speaks for God.

  • Koop
    June 10, 2007 - 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Bush should address those as he see’s fit. He see’s the world through an LSD tainted mindfuck of delusion and morace. Bush speaks and the world listens. What they hear is pig english. Pig latin… get it ? Do not put the pig in a security blanket because he is the loser in our white house. Put the pig in his trough of mud filled urine and shit where he swims daily. Bush morals and manners.

    Remember now… You own the oil, you own the world ! Speak as you wish ta.

  • June 10, 2007 - 5:08 pm | Permalink

    For the first time since Bush is president, I have to agree with him. Calling someone “sir” shows human respect for an elder.

    Honorifics above and beyond that imply that someone is higher than you in the food chain.

    I feel the same way about presidents, senators, and congressmen. Reporters should be referring to Bush as George.

    Although I don’t think he would like that.

  • mikey
    June 10, 2007 - 5:19 pm | Permalink

    He ISN’T my president..honest..I just happen to LIVE HERE !

  • Larry
    June 10, 2007 - 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Having spent considerable time with evangelicals while growing up, I can tell you that a re-born believer would never refer to any living person as ‘Your Holiness’. I have absolutely no problem with that, trouble is this is all part of Dubja’s delusion that ‘He’ is the earthly representative of god, not some Idolater in Rome.

  • Jake
    June 10, 2007 - 8:43 pm | Permalink

    What an arrogant SOB! Every practicing Catholic should be personally insulted by this intentional insult to the Vicar of Christ! Can only prove that Bush is in fact the ANTI-Christ!

  • a. douglas
    June 11, 2007 - 6:19 am | Permalink

    just shows how disrespectful and arrogant Mr. Bush really is, he has no use for protocols or treating people with respect. What do people except, he treats everyone (except his loyal subjects) with disdain and arrogance.

  • Eugene Sargent
    June 11, 2007 - 6:26 am | Permalink

    It just shows how self-centered and arrogant our president really is. It would not hurt him to give just one tiny gesture of respect, but he respects no-one. We’re just lucky he didn’t call him something worse like “your pastyness” or slap him on the back and say “howdy old feller!” Oh well, give no respect, get none either, that’s why we call him “the chimp.”

  • Leftside Annie
    June 11, 2007 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    Good grief. Pass me my “Unknown American” bag, please?

  • L-A
    June 11, 2007 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid I fall into the “big deal” category on this one. I generally don’t forgo any opportunity to bad-mouth Bush (blecchh), but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was just his knee-jerk reaction to being in the presence of a senior to whom he was trying to be respectful. Didn’t he grow up saying “sir” to men in authority? I’d guess he just reverted to knee-jerk and forgot the briefing that he was supposed to say “your Holiness.”

    I also agree with some of you above: after Bush, the Catholic church is right up there as one of the most destructive forces on the planet. I wouldn’t give that scheming religious politico any more respect than I have for the institution he leads.

  • June 11, 2007 - 8:50 am | Permalink

    There are plenty of reasons to condemn our War Criminal in Chief but this is absurd. I don’t want the prime representative of my country bowing and scraping before any theocrat be it Pat Robertson, this Nazi Pope or the bloody Dali Lama.

  • Otterpop
    June 11, 2007 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    When Bush was meeting with his old Texas friends, he went into a hissy fit when they called him George. “I am the President! I am the President!” he screamed. I wonder if the Pope screamed something similar….

  • Dallas112263
    June 11, 2007 - 9:25 am | Permalink


    I happen to agree that the President of the United States should call the Pontiff “sir” and avoid any title that would imply agreement with his religious tenets.

    But for completely different reasons than our evangelical President may have had. Ours is a secular Republic, the Vatican is a Theocratic Dictatorship. The President can be nice to him…

    But that’s it…

  • David
    June 11, 2007 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    Just more stupidity from the worst president in history. I don’t really care about the pope, either, but Bush has a big chip on his shoulder that needs to be knocked off. He’s so incurious and stupid. Moe, Larry & Curly would make better diplomats.

  • Tim
    June 11, 2007 - 11:17 am | Permalink

    I’m no defender of President Bush but the Pope isn’t holy to anyone besides non-lapsed Catholics.

    It’s crazy that a non-Catholic should be forced to call him “your Holiness.”

    “Sir” seems just fine with me. If it isn’t with you, get over it.

  • tealady
    June 11, 2007 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I’ll bet GW has no problem properly addressing his “brothers” the Saudi Princes and Kings by their proper political titles. He’s just a drunken arrogant buffoon. Whether you agree with the title for addressing the Pope or not, protocol is respect. I’ll bet the Pope didn’t call him George or MR. Bush.
    Isn’t it time he get something right?

  • Ann
    June 11, 2007 - 12:30 pm | Permalink

    But protocol is made up by the recipients, not by some independent board that establishes titles. If the prime minister of Elbonia wants to be called “Your Superiority in Everything,” do you think we should all comply?
    I don’t think the pope is holy, nor do I think that priests are my fathers, or even that Elizabeth is majestic.
    The founders of our nation rejected such titles for a reason.

  • Jake
    June 11, 2007 - 4:02 pm | Permalink

    “Your Superiority in Everything,” do you think we should all comply?

    Yes, if we want to do business with him…or we could do it the American way and bomb him into submission to get what we want.

    Also shows me that all of us Americans are just like ‘ol Georgie…too uneducated, ignorant and crass to understand or appreciate protocol.

  • June 11, 2007 - 8:01 pm | Permalink

    God forbid, a U.S. president should follow protocol when visiting dignitaries of whatever stripe, or other heads of state. I recall when a reporter erred and called Mr. Bush sir, rather than ‘Mr. President’. That ‘gaffe’ did not go without a sharp rebuke. Funny how things work for some.

  • The Skeptical Cynic
    June 11, 2007 - 8:46 pm | Permalink

    The assumption is made that $hithead George was briefed beforehand. Based on the sycophantic dolts,dimbulbs dunderheads, criminally stupid and the supremely arrogant that make up his staff, I doubt that there was any briefing done whatsoever. Considering that His Dumbness has his sophormoronic habit of putting a nickname on just about anyone, eg. Pooty Pute, Turd Blossom, Kenny Boy, I guess we should feel “blessed” that El Stupidissimo didn’t just hand the pope the walking stick saying,

    “Heeya go, Big Benny, I brung ya a stick! Hope ya lak it!

  • obj
    June 11, 2007 - 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Big deal. I don’t like Bush, but I don’t like Mitre-head either. Two top level criminals is all they are.

  • Canadian Derf-Man
    June 11, 2007 - 9:53 pm | Permalink

    For me, there are two things I retain from this article. The first thing is not WHAT he called the Pope, it’s the fact that he was told – at least once – by the press (regardless of the briefing he may or may not have had) to call him “Your Holiness”, and a few moments later, he calls him “sir” again. Huge lack of awareness, which I think we can all agree on, and which should be nothing new to you guys.

    The other thing I retain is this: “I’ve seen nothing about it on TV today, and don’t expect to.” That’s the kind of society you live in, fellow American. You can’t be free to talk down at the President in what they call “the liberal press”….. Did anyone see the Simpsons 18th season finally?

    Of course you did!

  • Willrayu
    June 12, 2007 - 6:53 am | Permalink

    Bush is a low life scumbag and an embarrassment to our nation and the entire free world. The Pope got the treatment he deserved from Bush for wallowing in the slime to help elect Bush for a second term. I hope the Pope and all those hypocrites who call themselves Catholic are happy with the job they did in helping elect a war criminal only because he claims to be “pro life”.

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