Pope Idol

"Super, smashing, great" Pope Francis, yesterday

“Super, smashing, great” Pope Francis, yesterday

And so, finally, the World’s worst lock-in at the Conclave Club comes to an end. The process for determining the successor to Pope Benedict XVI – the first pontiff to resign in 600 years – seems to have too many criteria, and more qualifying rounds than X-Factor. Thank Christ. Having said that, in the past the election has lasted weeks or months, sometimes so slow that voters have died (and presumably gone straight upstairs).

I imagine that, whilst the aromatic smoke puffs out of the chimney of the Vatican roof, next to the pub fire the 203 Cardinals from 69 countries hang around in Kappa or Diadora tracksuits (one hand firmly tucked down the front, like a gang of religious chavs), chatting about the voting. My own criteria for selecting such a prominent role would be as follows:

1) Where is he from? (Have they beaten my nation at football or war, and was cheating involved?)

2) Which is his favourite episode of Father Ted?

3) Has he been charged with the molestation of several hot-buttered choirboys?

4) Does he have a copy of Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth?

5) Has he farted, invisibly malodorously, whilst shaking the hand of a Head of State or equivalent? (Preferably the Queen, Colonel Gadaffi, or Hilary Clinton.)

6) Does he have any chance of effecting change in what is becoming a parody of itself, an anachronism of Christianity – that is slowly eating itself with it’s own draconian knife and fork?

7) Is he too tall to stand up in the Popemobile (and would he like it to appear on Pope My Ride)?

I am sure these pointing questions do not appear on the forms, but I would love to know what the process is. And, as importantly, what is the point of the pontiff?

Now, I am a Catholic by denomination, but I have practiced less than England’s penalty takers. So it means next to nothing to me, though I appreciate that it may well do to the 1.2billion Catholics around the globe. It certainly meant that the news channels deemed it necessary to treat it with the weird editorial approaching somewhere between state funeral and Olympic opening ceremony. Where the FUCK was Emile Sandé?

I am not an atheist, nor am I religious – I find solace in all manner of theories, and personal beliefs, and your writer is not pointing bendy fingers and sneering at you if you do. There has been enough grief, and a smattering of life-changing moments, in the very recent history of your scribe to understand that, at times, we all need to have faith in something. At even darker times, anything.
But it mustn’t be forgotten that whilst religion can provide you with an inner faith, being blinded by it has caused more death and destruction than the love and peace that most religions purport to preach. If it works for you, it might not work for the next man or woman. But it has never offended me, unless there has been an effort to ram it down my throat. And I’ve lived in Kuwait and Glasgow – two historical locations that propose difficult linguistic and temperate challenges to the average Englishman – to know what religious fervour can do the most mild-mannered of people.

The fact that so much attention was given to this procession of inanity actually did offend me. Ultimately, what difference is a new octogenarian in a papal gown going to make? Changing the pieces used in a game of Monopoly – from an iron to a cat, for the record – still doesn’t change the way you play the game. Unless he is going to make radical changes to the Catholic ideals, it really isn’t as newsworthy as the hours dedicated to it.


Cheese and Onion Discos, or 'Christ's Body Crisps'

Cheese and Onion Discos, or ‘Christ’s Body Crisps’

Now, if the manifesto is to ensure that at Holy Communion cheese and onion Discos and Ribena Fruit Shoots (or a decent, rich, hearty Merlot) are going to be the kneeling reward for the representation of Christ’s lunchbox, then it might make me sit up and take notice. Or want to go to church. If they have to plug their £19m budget deficit by seeking sponsorship, they could do worse than pitching at Cadbury’s for Easter and Christmas peak times.


But they won’t. Because they don’t have the balls to go for a reformer, or a radical youngster. Or anyone less than 80 years of age. Apparently, you have to be under 80 to vote, but what is the minimum age for being Pope? Well, as I’ve already explained, it doesn’t matter.

And so, as Catholics welcome Pope Francis – Argentina’s foremost Jim Bowen impersonator – to the Vatican balcony, the rest of the World shrugs its shoulders like a deaf Frenchman, and wonders what sort of Bully this one is going to come out with.

Follow me on twitter @benopause, or swing your incense through the congregation of the Facebook Benopausal group. Your sins will be forgiven, if you press that little ‘share’ button below.


One comment

  1. brennig · March 14, 2013

    I like incense, there’s something comforting about the smell – it links back to my childhood days as a chorister. But Sinead O’Connor said some very telling things, in an interview on C4 News, this evening, including how the RC Church shouldn’t need a pope.

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