President Obama sat across from Pope Francis “at a simple desk in the papal library” today. One imagines that he summoned the audacity to speak truth to power, as in:
“I am deeply concerned on behalf of 60 [give or take] million American Catholics and their bishops and archbishops, Your Holiness. Who are you to say “who am I to judge?” You are the Pope. If you can’t make an argumentum ad verecundiam [argument from authority], who can?
Pope Francis replied that as St. Thomas Aquinas, citing Boethius, stated authoritatively eight hundred years ago, the argument from authority is the weakest form of argument.
That seemed to settle the issue, and the rest of the meeting was spent in meditative and prayerful silence, broken only by an interjection from Francis on the history of tango and a disquisition from Obama on the chain of reasoning behind his most recent NCAA bracket.
(As Wikipedia states: “The Latin noun verecundia means ‘modesty’ or ‘shame.’ Its link to arguments from authority is that they are used to make those who lack authority feel shame about discussing issues they lack credential or expertise in, and modestly back out of an argument.”)
P.S. There is no truth to rumors that the seed chest given to the Pope by President Obama contained contraceptive pills along with the fruit and vegetable seeds from the White House garden. There is also no truth to rumors that the copy of the papal apostolic letter “Joy of the Gospel” given to President Obama by the Pope contained a personal indulgence absolving Obama of sins both of commission against the poor (by ignoring them in the quest for middle-class votes) and of omission against the rich (the non-war, that is–contrary to Fox News, may G-d have mercy on them–against the inordinate privileges of the 1% of the 1%).