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The meaning and origin of the expression: Is the Pope Catholic?

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Is the Pope Catholic?

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'Is the Pope Catholic?'?

A jokey rhetorical question.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Is the Pope Catholic?'?

Like the unquestioned fact that bears s*** in the woods, the Pope's Catholicism must be considered beyond doubt - hence the ironic humour in merely asking the question. Apart from the occasional dissident Catholic writer who might ask the question provocatively in order to make a theological point, no one would actually ask the question seriously. Anyone who uses the phrase does so in response to some other query that they wish to answer with a strong affirmative. An example of that, from the earliest citation of 'Is the Pope Catholic?' that I can find, was printed in the New Jersey newspaper The Asbury Park Press in February 1959. It relates to a boxer, Max Baer Jr:

After being stopped in the first round by Stanford junior Trev Grimm, a joker in the audience hollered, "Does he hit hard?"
"Is the Pope Catholic?" young Baer answered.