Papal Bull: A Modest Proposal

Pope Benedict XVI recently gave his two weeks’ notice.  He’s resigning.  I didn’t know the Pope could do that, but he can.  After all, he’s the Pope.  His real Pope name is Papa Benedictus Sextus Decimus, which is a bery cool name, indeed–much cooler than his real real name, Joseph Ratzinger.   

Now, there will be a new Pope.  Who will it be?  I know there’s an election and something to do with smoke being released when it’s over.  It’s not like the Dalai Lama where they go find some kid and name him Pope.  It’s also not like royalty–the celibacy thing prevents that from being effective.

My friend, Larry, suggested that I throw my hat in the ring (it’s a regular hat, not a big Pope hat–not yet).  I’m not Catholic which could be problematic.  Larry may or may not be Catholic, but his idea intrigued me.  Having failed in my quest to become football coach at the University of Kentucky, why not shoot for Pope now?

I don’t know what the qualifications are to be Pope.  Catholicism on at least some level may be a prerequisite. Maybe it’s like the U.S. Supreme Court–you don’t have to be a judge or a lawyer, but it helps.  I also don’t know how you get on the ballot.  So, let’s just treat this as my registering to run for office.  So, here we go.

As full disclosure, I’m married and have three children.  I don’t think this disqualifies me.  Some old-time Popes were married and had children before they became Pope, just like me.  My wife would be a fine Popess or Vatican First Lady or whatever.  My kids might be a bit unruly for the Holy See, but–hey–Lucretia Borgia was a murderer and her Dad was the Pope.  Mine aren’t likely to be that bad.

I don’t have time to become Catholic.  I know people who have converted to Catholicism, and it is a long process requiring counseling, classes and study–even prayerful reflection.  It’s harder than becoming a Shriner.  I’m a busy man, and I simply don’t have time for that.  This will be especially true when I win the election and am burdened with Poping duties.

I also want a really cool Pope name.  There has already been a Pope Hilarius (a funny, funny guy, by the way).  Of course, they was Pope Simplicius (also known as The Dim Wit Pope); and Pope Hyginus, the cleanest Pope. Linus, Liberius, Sixtus, Boniface, Innocent, Urban, Felix (huh?), Stephen, Julius, Eugene, Nicholas, Leo, Pius and many other Pope names are available.  There has never been a Pope Todd or Kevin or Earl.  My name is John, possibly the most popular Pope name, but I don’t want all those Roman numerals after my name.  I’m the Pope, not the Super Bowl.  Besides, there have been so many Pope Johns, that they’ve lost track of them.  I don’t want my number all messed up.  Plus, there’s already a Papa John.  I don’t want folks calling the Vatican wanting pizza. If elected, I’ll hold a contest via Twitter and Facebook.  NAME THE NEW POPE!  My personal choice is Sexius Beastus Superius, but I’ll let the people decide.

I’ll rock the Pope Holy garments.  I know the Pope wears an alb, because I have two friends who are Catholic deacons, and they wear albs.  My alb will be more like a bathrobe but encrusted with jewels.  Think Ric Flair but with overtly religious overtones.  I’m not wild about the dress the Pope wears or the red shoes, but I can take those on rare, formal occasions.


Nature Boy Ric Flair modeling one of my choices for Popely garb

I will tone down the hat.  Okay, I’m sure the hat has a holy significance, just like the staff or cane he carries.  But, I’m a baseball cap kind of guy.  The hounds-tooth hat, fedora, bowler or derby don’t look right on me.  The Pope Hat would be particular difficult for me.  I also favor wife beater t-shirts and sweat pants.  I’m sure those can be modified to a more dignified look for the papacy.


My Pope Hat

I want the Pope car, the famed Popemobile.  I know that the Vatican doesn’t like it being called that, but I love it. I’ll have a fleet of Popemobiles, Popecycles, Popeboats, Popecoptors, Poperockets, Pope Jet Packs and Pope Hovercrafts.  You’ll know me when I show up–in style.

I’ll have a steep learning curve what with my almost total ignorance of Catholicism.  I assume that the Vatican–like any government–has a staff of long-time civil servants who can show me the ropes.  How hard could it be, really?  Get me an alb and a sensible hat, and I can fake my way through it until I get the hang of it.

Once elected, I will embark on the most ambitious Popely agenda ever.  Among my many reforms will be the following:

  • No more Latin.  We’re going all English all the time.  I’m almost certain that God speaks English.  Why shouldn’t we?
  • The vows of poverty and chastity are going to have to go, at least for the Pope.  As the first Protestant Pope (as far as I know), I can’t be expected to get bogged down in all that minutia.  That’s for Catholics.
  • We’re going to simplify all the kneeling and chanting.  As a non-Catholic, I’ve found myself baffled to the point of delirium attending Catholic church services of any sort.  Kneel, say something, repeat this or that, etc.  It’s exhausting.  We’ll install light-up signs like in TV studios that will tell everyone what to do and when to do it. Problem solved.
  • There’ll be no more indulgences.  You step out of line, and that’s it.  I’m not running a loose ship.
  • I’ll immediately issue a papal bull putting an end to this University of Notre Dame nonsense.  One of my first acts will be to read off a list of all the Catholic universities in the United States and show their overall sub-par performance in athletics.  If that doesn’t work, I will simply display a huge photo of Digger Phelps with the caption:  IF GOD FAVORS YOUR SCHOOL, EXPLAIN THIS!
  • I will officially declare that any comical photos of empty dresses, chairs, etc., describing Manti Te’o’s girlfriend to be mortal sins.  It was funny at first, but it’s grown tiresome.
  • Wilt Chamberlain’s former home in Bel Air will become “Vatican West,” because…well…it’s cool and so was Wilt.  It will also be known as the Wilt House.

Vatican West

  • I’ll re-institute the Crusades.  At first, we’ll start small, terrorizing the Italian countryside.  If that goes well, we’ll branch out.  Perhaps we can go somewhere like New Guinea and give everyone a deadly strain of the flu.

You’re probably wondering why I want to be Pope.  First, have you seen where the Pope lives?


The Pope’s turf. Not too shabby.

Next, the Pope is just generally well thought of by folks.  Okay, there was that one nut job who shot John Paul II, but think about this:  He was shot 5 or 6 times and lived!  Even Stallone couldn’t do that.  There’s something to this Pope thing.

I also like the idea of papal infallibility.  That would be a big confidence-booster for me.

According to some really sketchy research I’ve done, the official title is cool:  Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God.  (Okay, the “Primate” thing isn’t so cool, but I guess it’s accurate.  As far as I know, all the Popes have been primates).

Finally, it would have to boost my standing with God.  Now, the Pope isn’t a god, like the Dalai Lama or the last Emperor of China or Emperor Hirohito of Japan, but he’s pretty important.  Given my many past transgressions, that has to help.  It certainly can’t hurt.

Will I be a good Pope?  It’s doubtful.  But, I certainly won’t be the worst Pope ever.  Come on, there have been so many Popes, at least one or two had to be terrible.  Surely, there was a Franklin Pierce or Andrew Johnson among them.  Now that I know I can resign, that takes some of the pressure away.  Worst case scenario, I’ll be the Richard Nixon of Pontiffs.

If I can’t be Pope, I can be Antipope.  There hasn’t been an Antipope in at least a few hundred years.  As Antipope, I could claim to be Pope but not really be.  I can even appoint Cardinals who will be called Quasi-Cardinals and Cardinal-Nephews or Quasi-Cardinal Nephews.  I have cousins who might like that.

Oh, there will be some rough days ahead for the Church.  I might cause a schism, maybe several.  My tendency to addresses my audience as “You miserable bastards” will take some getting used to.  But, I’ll do the best I know how, which is probably what every Pope does anyway.  Remember:  “No Pope, no hope.”  I’ll be better than nothing.  Or not.  At least I’ll make the next Pope look good.

© 2013


  1. As a member of the CIA (Catholic, Irish, Alcoholic), I vote you as our next Pope. Did you know Rick Flair lives in Charlotte? Yeah, see him at his favorite restaurant spot. I am not a fan. I wonder if Rick is catholic.

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