To err is hunam...

Published Monday, 14 October 2013
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Sorry, I mean human! "Everybody makes mistakes." Three little words signifying an eternal truth from the Eternal City.

It was the response given by Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi to the news that 6,000 commemorative Papal coins had been minted with Jesus's name spelt wrong.

Let me say that again: the Vatican got Jesus's name wrong on its coins.

The world's biggest Christian church, its mission to follow and spread the teachings of Jesus Christ, managed to produce a set of bronze, silver and gold coins on which the Messiah was named Lesus.

I must confess (no pun intended) I allowed myself a chuckle. It certainly adds a humorous element to the notion of Papal Infallibility.

To think of the mighty Roman Catholic Church, its red robed cardinals and purple clad bishops, getting something so simple so wrong.

But then I paused. Hubris is always stalked by Nemesis. Pride is quickly followed by a fall.

It made me think of my own frailty. My history of errors and mistakes. It made me consider my own humanity.

As a journalist, my cock-ups are made in public and archived for future gloating.

Whilst working for the 'Derry Journal' newspaper I had to review a just-published guidebook on Irish bars.

A slip of the computer key and the headline - forever there in huge black and white letters - invited the reader to find out about the "Pubic" houses of Ireland.

I'm a walking catalogue of duffs, mistakes, trips, slips and falls.

I got married with my zip down. I fell down the same spiral staircase THREE times. I set myself on fire in church. I can't ride a bike - or even a trike. I fell against the red emergency stop button in a large store and sent a dozen shoppers tumbling down the escalator. (see previous blogs for details)

But I am not alone. That's the joy of humanity. We're all in it together. We're all equally flawe.d

Vice-President Dan Quayle memorably "correcting" a small child's spelling of potato and adding an aberrant extra letter to make it "potatoe".

Derry City Council produced a glossy, full-colour brochure for an arts festival in 1992. The cover picture was reversed, however, and the city's west bank went east whilst the east headed for the sunset side.

Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie had difficulty spelling.

Even William Butler Yeats was a dreadful speller. His biographer David A. Ross described W.B's spelling as "a matter of wildly errant guesswork".... and Yeats went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

So next time you stub your toe, smash a hammer on your thumb or spill soup down your shirt - just pause, take a breath and smile. It means you're part of the human race.

As Federico Lombardi says: "Everybody makes mistakes."

© UTV News
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Mark McFadden
Mark McFadden

Mark McFadden is a world-award winning journalist based in the north West.

Known for his expertise on Bloody Sunday and the Saville Inquiry, he was the only reporter to cover the Inquiry from inception to completion.

In his spare time Mark is a keen guitarist and golfer (when the weather allows).

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