Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Overheard at the Porta Santa Anna.

That's the main working entrance to the Vatican* We were standing there after the audience, waiting for a friend of Mike & Rob's to join us for lunch. A large tour group passed by, and the tour guide (who spoke with a British accent), described the place thus:

"This is the Porta Santa Anna, the busiest entrance to the Vatican. The Vatican as you know is its own state. It publishes its own currency and stamps and inside it has its own petrol station, grocery and pharmacy. And things are cheaper there, since there is no tax. The pharmacy stocks everything -- you can go there if you need any medicines, you'll get them cheaper. Well, they stock everything but .... birth control! They do have viagra ... it is for procreation after all!"

I guess he was trying to be funny. I don't recall anyone in that group really laughing. We certainly weren't. What a silly and distorted perspective on the Catholic understanding of sexuality. And, sadly, quite pervasive, I suspect.

* "Main working entrance to the Vatican" brought to mind that famous quip by Pope John XXIII. When asked how many people worked in the Vatican, he is supposed to have said, "Oh, about half of them." :)

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