I wrote this article for The Canberra Times in 2013. Sadly, it’s just as relevant today. This is an edited version.
I believe a vacancy is about to arise in your esteemed organisation and I forthwith put myself forward for consideration for the position of Pope for the 21st Century. My credentials for the position are extensive.
I have read The Da Vinci Code. So I’m fully aware of the lunatic nature of albino monk assassins and the dangers of carrying anti-matter in the papal helicopter. Or was that Demons and Angels?
On a personal level, I was baptised at St Kevin’s Parish Church, went to the parish school, and attended so many funerals by the age of 11 the smell of incense terrifies me as I think I must be dead. I know my school catechism by heart (Do you believe in God? I believe in God the Father almighty creator of Heaven and earth) and the Apostle’s Creed (I believe in God the Father almighty creator of Heaven and earth … Ah, bit of overlap there). I can also mumble an extensive range of hymns (Faith of our fathers! Holy faith! We will be true to thee till death!) I suspect, however, that ‘Faith of our fathers, living still/In spite of dungeon, fire and sword’ might need a little update.
In Grade 2 I studied the pictorial Book of Martyrs. The graphic pictures included St Sebastian at the stake stuck with arrows and spurting blood and John the Baptist with his head on a silver platter with, I swear, a piece of parsley. To be honest, it put me off the career path of martyr.
I think I’m more suited to Pope. The gold jewellery, the yards of silk, the sweet slippers, the adorable capes along with 1.5 million followers on Twitter. Celebrities would die for that PR.
I wrote JMJ (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) at the top of every work page but still got answers wrong. No miracles there. I know how to pray, although, to be honest; my family holds the land speed record for saying the Hail Mary.
As Her Holiness, I’d assume the name Pope Maria taken from The Sound of Music. As a virgin with 7 children, Maria is an ideal role model.
My modernisation program would involve rewriting the 10 Commandments (Thou shalt not kill. This includes you too America.), making St Peter’s Basilica more homely (a few bean bags should do the trick), admitting fallibility (Church numbers are way down. Something’s wrong) and inviting women to be priests to stop the priesthood turning into an exclusive club of celibate, frock-wearing geriatrics.
My attendance at mass has dropped off, well, permanently of late. When I last fronted a mass and saw the communion wafers and wine I thought ‘a little camembert would be nice’. Obviously, I need a grace upgrade. But I do know Christ’s teachings.
Jesus never said ‘go and grab the best real estate and build monuments to the glory of architecture using cheap labour’. Nor did he say, ‘fill my churches with gold and precious stones looted from native people’s in pagan dominions’. He never said ‘argue among yourselves over the wording of the bible, so you splinter into fractious and violent sects’ although ‘transubstantiation’ is a big word. But it’s not in the bible.
Christ never commanded the crusades, the Inquisition, or the Irish squabbles so we can only assume that there have been leadership problems for about, say, 2,000 years.
Mostly, however, I want to produce a kinder, gentler, more humble, and less judgmental leadership with less pomp and ceremony and more care for the poor, the sick, the marginalised, and the neglected.
Something much closer to Christ’s teachings. Something, I think, more like the Salvos. And I’d be the first Pope to whip it up with the trombone.
Yours Faithfully, KC