I am what could be generously called a lapsed Catholic. But even if I become an atheist Buddhist with Zoroastrian tendencies, I am and will forever be a former seminarian. Even though I was never ordained, the experience left an indelible mark on my soul nonetheless. So, with Benedict throwing in the towel, the media getting their Catholic geek on and the election of the new Pope – it’s been an interesting couple of weeks. And my bride to be knows me very, very well.
“So what would you do if you became Pope?” Annie asks as we’re dining on lamb kebabs in a Greek restaurant.
“Probably try to figure out how to smuggle you into the Vatican,” I say.
“Popes have done it before.
“I’m sure the Borgias left tunnels somewhere.”
I take a bite of lamb and wash it down with some red wine. I’m being adventurous tonight. Ever since my gallbladder fiasco, lamb has no love for me. So far so good, but I’m sure I’ll pay for my sins later.
“No seriously,” Annie says. “You studied to be a priest and, despite yourself, you still care what happens with all this stuff. So what would you do if you got the job?”
“Well, I wouldn’t call myself Francis.”
“Because if any of you guys call me Francis,” I say, injecting a hysterical shrill into my voice, “I’ll kill you.”
Annie stares at me blankly. “What the hell are you talking about?”
I sigh. I’m ten years older than Annie so we don’t share all the same cultural references. I explain the legendary dialogue from the movie Stripes.
“Oh man,” she says when I’m finished. “That’s bad.”
“I emailed that video clip to a seminary classmate of mine. He wrote back, ‘I was thinking the same exact thing! Pope Psycho!’”
Annie shakes her head. “When are you going to write that book about seminary?”
Many people have asked me that question. I did try once five years ago but the publisher shot down the proposal. Just as well. The book didn’t have an ending then. But I didn’t know Ann then either – and she turned out to be more real than all the theological ponderings of my youth. Lets just say that book is a divine itch I have yet to scratch.
“One day Annie,” I say. “One day.”
“Well,” she says. “You haven’t written on your blog for ages and it’s pissing me off. When you get home, I want you to write about what you would do if you became Pope.”
I laugh. “Trust me, honey. Anyone who’s ever walked through the seminary door has thought of what they’d do if they got the white beanie.”
Baby, this one is for you.
TO DO LIST UPON ELECTION AS SUPREME PONTIFF OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.
1. When the Camerlengo asks, “Do accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?” Laugh maniacally and shout, “It’s on bitches!”
2. Pick a name. Pick a scary name. I shall be called Sixtus.
3. My papal motto will be, “Because I said so.”
4. Remind myself never to look at online porn again. That shit could be traced back real quick.
5. Quickly figure out who’d be the first to poison me. Drink bottled beer only.
6. Call my cigar store and have a couple of boxes sent to “Top Dude at Vatican” post haste.
7. Pull the Vatican out of the Euro Zone. I want my face on the money.
8. Call my banker in the morning to set up a retirement plan.
9. Order the entire Rosetta Stone Language program. I need to be able to say, “Kneel before Zod!” in every tongue.
10. Find some really, really hot nuns.
11. Have my butler totally vetted before hire.
12. Dust off the Spanish Inquisition manual and renovate the dungeon. I have some housecleaning to do.
13. Relaunch the Crusades – as a massive multiplayer online game and reap the profits.
14. Put John Paul II back in the ground – where he wanted to be laid to rest. (I don’t need to worry about my corpse becoming an object of veneration. Something tells me I won’t be buried in The Vatican.)
15. Put in a rule that says a Pope must be dead a hundred years before you can even think about promoting him to sainthood. Right now the whole thing’s a racket.
16. Create the Swiss Navy. Sell The Pieta to the Bellagio in Vegas and buy a fully armed aircraft carrier and rechristen it, The Wrath of God. Stalin once asked, “How many divisions does the Pope have?” Well Uncle Joe, now the Pope has nukes.
17. Move Castel Gandolfo to the Jersey shore brick by brick
18. Hire Bruce Willis to find those priests who have the stones to make The Fifth Element. With my luck Satan is a monster-sized alien who’ll show up on my first day off.
19. Make my five-year old nephew a cardinal. It’s been done before.
20. Rename the Jesuits “The Jedi” and rename their mother church “St. Obi-Wan Outside the Walls.”
21. Commission Pope Sixtus comic book series. I’ve already got a cape.
22. Make the Vatican energy independent by hooking up the mains to the Ark of the Covenant. I know it’s around here somewhere.
23. Ditch the Popemobile for a Lamborghini.
24. Bring back bingo night at St. John Lateran.
25. Extort cattle ranchers for big payoffs or I bring back of meatless Fridays all year.
26. Have all the other religions of the world pay me for “protection.”
27. No more of this “What time is midnight Mass?” bullshit. Midnight! End of discussion.
28. Allow pets at the Vatican and get my dogs ermine booties.
29. Say priests don’t have to marry – but they have to raise at least one child.
30. Make waiting tables part of seminary formation. You learn a lot about people serving food.
31. Proclaim no priest shall be ordained until he is thirty-three. By that time, if you’re crazy, we’ll know.
32. Ban Denis Rodman from the Vatican.
33. Warn Sinead O’Connor she’d better not rip up MY picture.
34. Buy red sneakers. Better yet, launch my own line – Air Sixtus.
35. Tell Puerto Rican mothers to stop naming their kids Jesus. (I can say that because there’s a Puerto Rican branch of my family.)
36. All of Rome’s homeless get to sleep in St. Peter’s every night. Make that mandatory for every bishop’s cathedral in the world.
37. Watch the first two Godfather films for guidance – because the Curia is the original Mafia.
38. Have nuns constantly praying to St. Anthony so I can always find my Keys to the Kingdom.
40. Add “Ecclesiastical Shogun” to my extensive list of titles. Get accompanying samurai sword from the Emperor of Japan. Wicked cool.
41. Canonize Dorothy Day and my late godfather.
42. Make Latin hip again.
43. Bishops will no longer be allowed to reside in mansions. Of course, this does not apply to me. It’s good to be the Pontiff.
44. Bring back the Sedia Gestatoria. I am the Man!
45. Make L’Osservatore Romano a tabloid and add sudoku.
46. Turn the Bark of St. Peter into a macked out yacht.
47. Remember the lamb who was lost and why he is the most important one to find.
48. Start selling stuff. Start selling lots of stuff.
49. Have my attorneys send Dwayne Johnson a cease and desist letter and tell him the use of the name “The Rock” has been copyrighted for two-thousand years. “Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam.”
50. Bind less. Loose more.
In all seriousness, we don’t get a new Pope every day. Even I teared up when I heard the words “Habemus Papam” Good luck Papa Bergoglio. The hopes of the world are with you.
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Thanks for the good post!
I especially like the ermine booties for the Vatican dogs. *You’ll* have them, after all.
Have you thought about launching a Church condom-distribution program?
I’d vote for you.
But what about the Papal cats?
“Good luck Papa Bergolio”
Cardinal Scola was the runner up. That’s right, we came THIS close to having Pope Scola….
Regarding #4: Some years ago I worked for a large web company, and at one point they had a compiled a report of their various client web sites and how many web hits each site had from various source countries. On a whim I checked and found that playboy.com was a client, and that it had a non-zero number of web hits originating from the Vatican (.va) domain. I remain amused.
You’d be Sixtus VI, right? Has sort of a rapper ring to it.
Regarding your gall bladder trouble, you might consider adding lecithin to your daily supplements. I had GB problems back in the late 80’s when lapriscopic surgery was still new and couldn’t afford two months out of work, so I started a lecithin supplement, greatly reduced saturated fats in my diet, and the problem resolved itself and my gall bladder is still there.
Good luck! And I’d definitely vote for you for pope.
Dude, when I heard he took the name Francis, ‘Stripes’ went zinging through my brain. And I saw him walking back into the Vatican from the balcony, dropping the mic and saying, “It’s on bitches!”
“Proclaim no priest shall be ordained until he is thirty-three. By that time, if you’re crazy, we’ll know.”
Heh. In the Episcopal Church a lot of priests don’t get ordained before their 40s — because they usually have to pay their own way — and the crazy factor still seems pretty high.
Thanks for the list. Good on Annie for making you post! She’s the woman you need!
I do hope you write that book about your time in the seminary one day, I think it would be really interesting. I read a lot of good things about the new Pope, and a lot of disappointing things as well. Hopefully, he will be open minded about future change — but, I think a few things on your “To Do List” would be a good start.
As a former Episcopalian (Catholic Lite), I follow what Popes say and do. I feel that an old misogynistic swallower and spreader of bullshit needs to be monitored. I also think the “Church” needs to be monitored and taxed. It is a business, after all.
As an atheist, I find all religion to be completely repulsive and counterproductive. Indoctrination of adults is bad enough…to do it to children who have no freedom of choice is even worse.
You do know that the last Pope Sixtus was Pope Sixtus V. Which would make you Pope Sixtus the Sixth. Pretty tough on all the lithperth out there.
“”22. Make the Vatican energy independent by hooking up the mains to the Ark of the Covenant. I know it’s around here somewhere.””
I’m sorry, it’s in Axum Ethiopia.
Well played sir, well played.
Welcome back, great post. Yea for Annie making you get off your butt and writing.
I’d suggest just one addition to the list; you could wait until you’re old and sick of it all before finishing with “tuckets and flourishes”:
51. Declare ex cathedra that the doctrine of Papal Infallibility is a grave error. The world would be obliged to implode, if I understand the tenets of logic correctly, but hell, “Apres nous le deluge”, no?
Try combining #2 and #9 by calling yourself pope Zod, that way you can make saying “kneel before Zod” or “kneel before Pope Zod” a bit more bad-ass. In addition for #34 you can make Air Zods. #3 could be “Because pope Zod said so”. Pope Zod comics makes a nifty soundbite also.
I love the fact that Pope SIxtus will keep the cattle ranchers in line, and get “The Rock” to cease and desist! Very funny!
I just can’t stop laughing over this and I’m not even catholic. Red sneakers, oh my gosh and Dennis Rodman should have been stopped before he popped up in North Korea let alone the Vatican…you are so funny and you say what so many of us want to say but you alone have found the words for…thanks and keep on writing
I adore your rant! But Ian saddened by the fact that you are so centric! I know you deal in the big city. We live in the ducky real world.
We love you tho!!!!
I am an avid reader of your blog . This list is the most fun thing i have ever read in some time .. Shared it with my friends , siblings and everyone .. You Rock man 🙂
LOL. Turned out some of my musings were prophetic.