By Joe Vitale
A life-sized cardboard cutout of Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope and the first pope from the Americas, was stolen from Campus Ministry’s office in the McGinley Center during Thanksgiving Break, according to the Campus Ministry.
The theft of the cutout was first reported on Monday, when members of Campus Ministry returned from the long weekend and noticed that the cutout was no longer in its usual place outside the office.
Students were alerted of the incident from a Facebook post by Fr. Phil Florio, S.J., director of Campus Ministry at Fordham.
“We need your help: the life-size Pope Francis cardboard cut-out that has become a beloved addition to our Campus Ministry promotions on campus has gone missing from the front of our office in McGinley,” Florio said in the post.
Florio added that Public Safety is aware of the situation and that it will be reviewing security cameras “with great attention.” Because the cutout belongs to Campus Ministry, it is considered university property, which can lead to more serious action if a member of the community does not come forward.
The cutout of Pope Francis was acquired by Campus Ministry — for a meager $45 — in August and has been used to promote numerous events, such as the Mass of the Holy Spirit and Ignatian Week.
“Campus Ministry is not gimmicky,” said Fr. Phil Florio, S.J., the director of Campus Ministry, noting that, to some, using a cutout of the Holy Father could come off as too cheeky. “But it is one gimmick we though we could have a little fun with.”
For many, the cardboard figure is a reminder of the Jesuit tradition that has come to have great influence in the Vatican following the pope’s becoming the pontiff. A confirmed visit to New York City — and, possibly, to Fordham — has all but increased his popularity in the community.
As for his cutout, Florio, acting out of compassion rather than suspicion, suggested that it may not have been taken but “simply borrowed.” If a member of the community were to return the cutout, Campus Ministry would be willing to “kindly forgive and forget.”
In light of the rather curious situation, many, including Florio, have used the opportunity to act with good humor considering the circumstances.
In a post on Tuesday evening, Florio noted that the cutout had been missing for a full 24 hours.
“Given this: I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you’re looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money but what I do have are a very particular set of skills,” Florio, in reference to Taken, said. “Skills I have acquired over a very long career. If you return our cutout now, that will be the end of it. We will not look for you. We will not pursue you. “
If not, Florio is asking the theif to buy them a new cutout.
“Which,” he noted, “is impossible because today we learned that they are sold out.”