Sometimes we think New Pope is just trolling us. Like this weekend, when Pope Frankie folded a blessing of Harley Davidson enthusiasts — it’s the company’s 110th anniversary — into a Vatican mass commemorating the Church’s 1995 “Evangelium Vitae” encyclical that laid out official doctrine on abortion, euthanasia, and end of life decisions. As TalkingPointsMemo points out, the Church’s teaching on choice seems maybe a bit at odds with Harley-Davidson’s ad slogan for its 2013 product line: “Live life on your own terms. More than 30 ways to defy the status quo.” Then again, since Harley’s “rebel” image is as cynically calculated as the Vatican’s “sanctity o’ life” stance, maybe it all fits, we dunno. Make your own jokes about cafeteria Catholics and weekend poser bad boys?
In any case, there were lots of motorcycles:
Thundering Harley engines nearly drowned out the Latin recitation of the “Our Father” prayer that accompanied Francis as he greeted the crowd before Mass. Standing in his open-top jeep, Francis drove up the main boulevard leading to St. Peter’s Square, blessing the thousands of people in what was a giant Harley parking lot.
Once the service got under way, bikers in their trademark leather Harley vests sat in the square alongside nuns and tens of thousands of faithful Catholics taking part in an unrelated, two-day pro-life rally.
Sure, why not? No doubt Umberto Eco was on hand to say something about hyperreality, too.
The whole bizarre scene left us thinking that the juxtaposition of Vatican and Harley Davidsons may be less incongruous than it initially seems, considering that both are pointlessly ornate anachronisms that generate a lot of expensive noise without serving any clear purpose. Ah, to be forty-five and balding again…