An open letter to the College of Cardinals

Your Holinesses,

Forgive me if I have breached any sort of protocol by writing this letter. Am I allowed to even call you that? I had no idea how to go about addressing you, so I decided to take a punt on “your holinesses”. I figured it was safe, as you would probably hold out some claim to be righteous dudes, and one of you is probably going to be the next pope, after all. Although I’ve some thoughts of my own about that, as you’ll soon discover.

And I know you guys like everything to be in Latin, but I reckon most of you will have at least a smattering of English, and if you don’t then one of your secretaries will probably translate this letter for you. But if they’re all too busy doing whatever a cardinal’s secretary does these days, then just run it through Google Translate. You do have the internet in the Vatican, don’t you?

Anyway, I heard your boy Benedict has called it a day. I can’t say I was ever a fan of Bennie the Big One-Six, and if I’m going to be brutally honest I think you should have appointed someone a bit more infallible.

You’re probably now scratching your heads over who the heck the next pope ought to be, but don’t try and tell me you haven’t been talking about it in the lunch-room. The current guy’s in his eighties, so he was never going to be a long-term proposition.

I’ve read enough Dan Brown to know you Vatican guys take the whole secrecy thing super-seriously, so I’m not after any sort of inside scoop on who the next Big Cheese is going to be. But I’m also hoping you haven’t all made your minds up just yet, because the choice you have to make soon is an important one.

So can I make a few suggestions about who you should look at? Is that okay?

For starters, you need to go with a younger person. I’ve nothing against the elderly, but the Church is in a pretty piss-poor state, and a younger pope might at least have the energy to push through the necessary reforms, whereas an older one might just be content to sit on the papal throne for a few years, and kick around the Vatican admiring all the paintings, and only nipping out on the odd occasion on his Popemobile to get a pack of smokes or a pie.

And why not look at a woman for the role for a change? Would it kill you to give a woman a turn? Or how about someone from Africa or Asia?

I’m told that the Pope has to believe in God, but why is this even a requirement? You have to admit that if there really was a god he’d have smote your arses or infested you all with boils long ago, as punishment for the truly awful things either committed or condoned by the Church. So why not open the field to atheists and agnostics, or even those of other faiths?

Imagine, for example, if you appointed a Muslim as the next pope. Could you imagine the look on Richard Prosser’s face? Then again, I don’t suppose you even know who Richard Prosser is. You’re lucky.

Look, I know the job of selecting the next pope is a difficult and complex one, but if you need a hand I’m happy to help. Whatever you need, I’m happy to help. Whether it’s putting together a candidate list, organising some focus-groups to critique your picks, or just being a shoulder for some of you to cry on, I’m here for you.

So give me a call, or send me an email. Just not in Latin.

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