An A-POPE-strophe, Please!

Headline in the May 5, 2014, edition of the Seattle Times:

Pope sex-abuse panel highlights accountability

A long stay in a mountain cabin has cut me off from world and national news. So it wasn’t surprising that when this visitor to the Pacific Northwest opened the Seattle Times, a headline on page A-5 stopped him (i.e., me) short. Did it mean Pope Francis had been sexually abused? Or, perhaps, that the panel’s focus was on the abuse of every Pope since St. Peter?

It meant nothing of the sort, of course. But the headline serves as a lesson in the vital importance of a certain punctuation mark: the apostrophe. When a fruit stand advertises Apple’s and Pear’s we know exactly what’s for sale. Not so with this apostropheless Pope. Insert ’s after the e, and it becomes clear that a panel assembled at the behest of Pope Francis “highlights accountability” – a blessed relief, so to speak, for yours truly and any other news junkies playing catch-up.

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