My Ill- Fated Run for the Papacy
Revisiting my 2013 campaign to become Pope
Q) You’re just an ordinary schmuck. What made you think you had a chance to be Pope? You weren’t even a cardinal.
A) Actually, the custom that the College of Cardinals would choose among themselves is a relatively recent phenomenon, from the Fourteenth Century–that’s like yesterday in ecclesiastical time. Technically, to be a pontiff, you only have to be a baptized Roman Catholic male. I qualify. I was counting on that technicality.
Q) Wouldn’t yours be the first campaign ever run on the internet?
A) Look at my situation. I first had to get my name in front of those assembling in Rome. I figured if I got 10,000 “likes” on Facebook that the cardinals would have to pay attention. I got 23. Bad planning on my part. I didn’t go viral.
“It’s not your parents’ Church anymore.”
Q) Let’s assume you had become Pope. How would things be different?
A) Well, first off, I’d make it a part-time job. I’ve looked into the duties and there really aren’t that many. Mostly, occasional blessings. An encyclical here and there. Second, the Holy See would be moved. San Diego has much better weather than Rome. My slogan would be: “It’s not your parents’ Church anymore.”
Q) The Church has been rocked by scandals. Every week seems to bring news about another member of the clergy who abused young people. What would you have done about that?
A) I would go on record. The Church can’t just discourage pedophilia. The Church has to forbid it. If there remains any confusion, I would have proposed an addition to the Ten Commandments.
Q) Had you given any thought to what name you might have taken if you had been chosen as Pope?
A) Yes. Innocent XIV. Given all the scandals, I wanted to be able to say, “I’m Innocent.”
Q) Did you foresee any personal problems if you were made Pope?
A) Small things. Infallibility is a real conversation stopper. Say, you’re with a bunch of friends and someone asks, “Who was the best pitcher in the 1974 World Series?” As soon as you open your mouth, the conversation is over.
Q) Wouldn’t you be the first married pontiff?
A) Well, as you know, we don’t like to air our dirty laundry in public. Let’s just say that it’s time we had a leader of the Church who represented the not so small number of Catholics who are married. Now that another pontiff has been chosen, I am sad to admit that my wife had already given considerable thought to redecorating the Vatican apartments. She wanted to move away from “Michelangelo masculine.” She also complained that the Pope-mobile looked like an ice-cream truck.
Q) What about ordaining women? Are you in favor of women as priests? Would you also include gay priests?
A) Yes, yes, yes. I see no impediment to anyone who can speak conversational Latin.
Q) So, when that puff of white smoke ascended from the Sistine Chapel, and word came out that we had a new Pope, you must have been crushed? How was that for you?
Next time I’m using Twitter.
A) Well, it wasn’t like I didn’t get an Academy Award and the tv cameras zoomed in on my face to see how I was going to react. It wasn’t like that. What I thought was: “Too soon, too soon. The Church is not yet ready for the changes I would make. Like a cruise ship steaming across the ocean, the Church can’t just levitate on a dime.”
On the other hand, I thought, “Benedict, the prior Pope, has considerably expanded the Retirement Option. Who knows how long the current fellow, Francis, will serve before he decides to take the health benefits and retire to that J.R.R. Tolkein place–Castel Gandolfo.” So, call me a pontiff-in-waiting. Next time I’m using Twitter.
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