US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Of sourpusses and vinegar faces

By Meinrad Scherer-Emunds | Print this pagePrint |

Over at NCR, Dennis Coday notes about Pope Francis' new apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) that "this just may be the first time 'sourpusses' appears in an official papal document." I'd say that's a pretty safe bet.

Here is the wonderful quote (#85): "One of the more serious temptations which stifles boldness and zeal is a defeatism which turns us into querulous and disillusioned pessimists, 'sourpusses.' "

That just made me really curious (yes, apparently I have too much time on my hand) how that little phrase might be rendered in the various other languages on the Vatican website.

I like the pope's original Spanish version, which talks of grouches "con cara de vinagre," i.e., being "vinegar-faced." The Italian, French, and German versions describe those misanthropes a little less colorfully as "dalla faccia scura," "au visage assombri," and "mit düsterem Gesicht," all three meaning "with a dark face."

For the definitive rendering of sourpusses, one would, of course want to consult the Latin, which, after all should be the final word when Roma locuta. But not only don't popes these days craft their letters in Latin anymore (according to Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, the pope wrote it in Spanish), the Latin version hasn't even been posted yet.

Maybe the Latin translators are still arguing whether it's better to be de facie aceti (vinegar-faced), de facie acerbi (a sourpuss), or just simply an interfector gaudii (a killjoy).

Image: Envy (The Seven Deadly Sins) by Ludwig Linzinger. Pulpit, St. Bartholomew Parish, Reichenthal, Austria (Wikimedia Commons)