Pope tells Scots that whisky is the real holy wa­ter

Scottish Daily Mail - - Life - By Paul English

FOOTAGE of Pope Fran­cis hold­ing up a bot­tle of Scotch whisky and pro­claim­ing it ‘the real holy wa­ter’ was cen­sored by the Vat­i­can ahead of a new BBC doc­u­men­tary fo­cus­ing on Scot­tish sem­i­nar­i­ans in Rome.

The footage fea­tured the Holy Fa­ther ac­cept­ing a bot­tle of Oban malt from a group of Scot­tish stu­dent priests at a re­cep­tion at the Vat­i­can’s Apostolic Palace last year.

But Vat­i­can me­dia in­sisted the pon­tiff’s quip was cut from the film be­fore it was due for broad­cast this Sun­day.

Direc­tor Tony Kear­ney, whose com­pany So­lus Pro­duc­tions made the one-hour ob­ser­va­tional doc­u­men­tary Priest School, fol­lowed the Scot­tish sem­i­nar­i­ans over 18 months in 2018 and 2019.

He said: ‘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 whisky. 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.

‘But 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.

‘We were re­ally an­noyed at first, but they in­sisted they didn’t want the Pope to be seen to be en­dors­ing whisky.

‘I think it’s quite funny how guarded his im­age is. We had four or five guys fol­low­ing us in suits with ear pieces, it was like the CIA. I pushed the bound­aries as far as we could go.

‘Fran­cis is rip­ping up the rule book, he’s ahead of the curve, and the flunkies around about him need to catch up.

‘We’ve man­aged to get rare ac­cess into an an­cient Scot­tish in­sti­tu­tion and what it’s like to train as a priest – we’ve never seen it be­fore.

‘These are down-to-earth, or­di­nary blokes who like a drink, like the foot­ball and live or­di­nary lives. It smashes the mys­tery.’

Priest School, BBC Scot­land, Sun­day 10pm

Bot­tle gift: Pope Fran­cis

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