The Catholic Church has a complicated relationship with alcohol. Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding, and when Catholics go to church on Sundays they have a sip of wine that they consider to be the blood of Jesus (and yes, it still has a normal ABV). That wine life has bled over and embedded itself deep into the culture of French and Italian Catholics. But the Scots? They drink scotch, don't they? Imagine the leader of over a billion Catholics worldwide stooping so low as to have an affinity for scotch. Uh oh.
Welp, in a new documentary that's coming out called Priest School about Scottish seminarians (which are, as the title suggests, students at priest school), there's some unique footage of the seminarians at the Vatican. As is tradition, gifts were offered to Pope Francis. Having heard that His Holiness enjoys whiskey -- even the Queen of England gave him a bottle once -- they gifted him a bottle of scotch. Priest School director Tony Kearney explained, "... when [the seminarians] handed him the bottle, instead of just handing it to his assistant as he normally would with a gift, he held it up and said 'Questa e la vera acqua santa', which means 'This is the real holy water.'"
You have to be pretty careful when taking photos and videos at the Vatican. The Vatican media department has more cameras running than Joe Exotic's zoo, and they're quicker to come down with censorship than the KGB or Disney+. Kearney had agreed that the Vatican could approve all his footage before broadcast, and when they handed him their cut, they'd removed the clip of the Pope joking about scotch.
That's amazing -- the Vatican just created its own version of the Streisand effect, but with Pope Francis and scotch. By censoring that bit out, it's already made the news on an even grander scale. Maybe they were concerned that it would come off as the leader of Catholicism worldwide endorsing drinking or something, but for a lot of folks that's half the excitement of going church.
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