An upcoming documentary about Scots College in Rome featured Pope Francis goofing around with several young seminarians, accepting their gift of a bottle of Oban malt and proclaiming it “the real holy water.” It sure sounds like a fun moment, but the suits at the Vatican censored the footage from the final cut.
Director Tony Kearney told the Daily Record that the line helped humanize the Pope with the students. “We filmed the students meeting with the Pope in the Apostolic Palace. One of them was tasked with giving the Pope a bottle of malt because they know he likes whiskey,” he said. “He was really down to earth with them all and when they handed him the bottle, instead of just handing it to his assistant as he normally would with a gift, he held it up and said ‘Questa e la vera acqua santa’, which means ‘This is the real holy water.’
“He guffawed with laughter and it was a real ice-breaker with the students and put everyone at ease,” Kearney went on to say.
Well, it sure sounds like a fun moment, but we’ll never get to see it.
“We’d agreed that the Vatican’s media office would be allowed to approve all of our footage before we broadcast it. So we sent them the files and when they sent it back, that bit of him saying that was cut out,” Kearney said. “We were really annoyed at first, but they insisted they didn’t want the Pope to be seen to be endorsing whiskey. I think it’s quite funny how guarded his image is.”
“Francis is ripping up the rule book,” Kearney said ruefully. “He’s ahead of the curve and the flunkies around about him need to catch up.”
The documentary is called Priest School and will air on the BBC.