We are all too familiar with the knee-jerk reaction of Vatican apparatchiks when Francis has said or done something outrageous. But this is something quite other.
In the face of video evidence which has reportedly gone viral among Protestants and Pentecostals, the Vatican communications supremo, Paolo Ruffini, simply denies that the prostrations took place. ‘We said here that there was no ritual and no prostration took place, we have repeated this here, so we have to be vigorous in saying things that actually happened before cameras, so we have explained that this did not happen.’*
He is, of course, on a hiding to nothing.
People who have observed that the Pope thinks a diversity of religions is intended and purposed by God (‘The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in his wisdom, through which he created human beings.’) are bound to conclude that Francis is capable of all manner of idolatry. And the evidence of their own eyes will contradict any number of assertions by Vatican officials. No matter that the Holy Father himself did not take part in the rituals.
In Muslim areas and in the Amazon basin, Evangelical Protestants will continue their campaign against Catholicism with renewed vigour.
*This probably sounded more convincing and more coherent in Italian!