In his speech to a joint meeting of Congress, Pope Francis waded into some turbulent political waters: climate change, immigration, and income inequality. But he avoided perhaps the most controversial issue of the day … the Washington Redskins; more particularly, the football team’s offensive name.
In his private meeting with House Speaker John Boehner, however, the Holy Father asked, “How can a football team have a name that offends so many people, especially native Americans? The name must go.” Boehner replied diplomatically, “I’m not a big football fan so I don’t get involved in issues like that, Your Excellency.”
When word of the Pope’s comment to Boehner was made public, all hell broke loose.
Republican presidential candidates immediately tackled the issue, looking to score points on the pontiff’s gaffe. Jeb Bush offered, “ The Pope needs to stick with what he knows best, religious issues. He’s not qualified to weigh in on American football.” This critique is very similar to Bush’s scolding of the pontiff for delving into the topic of climate change. “He’s not a scientist,” said Bush.
Ted Cruz was quoted as saying, “Are we to get rid of all names that refer to American Indians, such as Braves, Chiefs, Warriors? These names honor the American Indian not insult him.”
Perhaps the sharpest criticism came from the Republican presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump. “With all due respect, the Pope is out of his league here. What does he know about American sports anyway? Sure the name is a slur against Native Americans, but so what? This political correctness has got to stop. People need to grow a pair.”
“What’s next?” asked Trump. “Are we going to have the Kansas City Puppies playing the Dallas Kittens in a non- contact flag football Super Bowl with Kenny G as halftime entertainment? Let’s get real. We’re a society of wimps.”
Pope Francis’ director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, weighed in on the controversy. “The team already calls itself ‘hogs” and fans come dressed up as pigs. Why not call them the Washington Hogs?”
Upon hearing Lombardi’s suggestion, Trump, in true Trumpian form, sarcastically replied, “Well, a lot of fat women might be offended!”
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)