Pope a Go Go!
“The first thing he said when shown the papal apartments at the Vatican was ‘There is room for three hundred people here’ – next thing we knew the place was packed with raving clergymen!” says Cardinal Hugo Strangler, describing the changes being wrought in the Vatican by the recently-elected Pope Francis. “The rave went on all night, with His Holiness himself on the decks, spinning us some wicked mixes of Pat Boone and Cliff Richard! The younger priests were putting away the communion wine and wafers like the world was about to end!” According to Cardinal Strangler, who participated in the conclave which elected Pope Francis, the impromptu rave is typical of the new Pontiff’s interest in using popular culture as a vehicle for disseminating the word of God. “He’s really down with the kids,” explains Strangler. “He’s got his finger firmly on the pulse of popular culture – even his Papal name reflects this.” Contrary to popular belief, the Cardinal claims, the new Pope isn’t named for St Francis of Assisi, but rather for Francis Rossi of Status Quo. “By honouring this titan of modern pop music, His Holiness is hoping to demonstrate to the youth of the world that the church still has relevance,” he says. “He’s planning to get down with the kids soon – bringing his Stratocaster out onto the balcony at St Peter’s Square and thrashing out a few classic Quo covers.”
The Pope’s guitar has allegedly already had at least one outing in aid of interdenominational harmony, with Rome rife with rumours of an impromptu jam session involving Pope Francis on lead guitar, his Coptic equivalent on bass and the Dalai Lama on drums. “It is said to have happened in a basement bar near the Vatican, the day after the Holy Father was appointed,” says the Cardinal. “He’d apparently gone to settle his hotel bill, then bumped into the other two spiritual leaders outside the bar and one thing led to another. It is said that they thrashed out a number of old Jimi Hendrix numbers, including Voodoo Child and Purple Haze.” Indeed, stories about the unconventional new Pope’s populist antics are rife throughout the Italian capital, including the claim that the evening after his official inauguration, Pope Francis attended a karaoke night at a local bar, belting out a number of popular hymns and Gregorian chants, to the delight of the rest of the audience. “He is clearly a Pope of the people – in touch with the common man,” comments Strangler. “He understands that we must start preaching the gospel in terms that modern ordinary people can understand, if the church is to survive.”
However, Pope Francis’ pop culture approach to the Catholic faith and, in particular, his calls for it to become the church of the poor, have not met with universal approval in the Roman Catholic hierarchy. “All this ‘Pope a Go Go’ business is all very well, but he’s riskin’ making us a laughin’ stock,” declares Brendan O’Fugh, Bishop of Skibbereen. “At a time when we need to be reassertin’ our moral authority, in the wake of all these kiddie fiddlin’ allegations and the like, the last thing we need is the Pope jitterbuggin’ round the Basilica and singin’ duets with Justin Beiber!” O’Fugh is also suspicious of Pope Francis’ commitment to use the wealth of the church to help the world’s poor. “Look, the poor are poor because it is all part of God’s feckin’ plan, alright? Who are we to question His scheme of things?” says the exasperated cleric. “He creates us all equal, doesn’t He? If some lazy bastards can’t be bothered to get off their arses and make somethin’ of themselves, that’s their problem. The Almighty gave us free will, for feck’s sake, didn’t he? It’s their choice! If we bale ‘em out we’re just goin’ against God’s will!” O’Fugh is worried at the form that Pope Francis’ attempts to help the poor might take. “If we’re not careful, he’ll be holdin’ a feckin’ car boot sale in St Peter’s Square, floggin’ off all of our art treasures at bargain basement prices and givin’ the proceeds to some feckin’ beggars or gyppos!” he declares. “Next thing, he’ll be turning our bloody cathedrals and churches into doss houses! Look, if he really wanted to help the poor, he’d start advocatin’ contraception, wouldn’t he? But that’s not goin’ to happen, is it?”
O’Fugh had favoured a more conservative candidate for the Papacy, following Pope Benedict’s resignation, most specifically Cardinal Franco Hatchet. “He’s the sort of fellah we need to bring some dignity and respect back to the church,” enthuses the bishop. “I know people are always sayin’ he’s some kind of knee-jerk reactionary, but he has some pretty progressive ideas.” O’Fugh has been particularly impressed by Hatchet’s recent theological papers in which he has attempted to show that suicide might not be a mortal sin under certain circumstances – if committed in the name of God, for instance. “There’s no doubt that it opens up some fascinatin’ possibilities,” he muses. “Like the idea of Catholic suicide bombers who could instil real fear into the infidels and sinners. I mean, it’s worked wonders for the Muslims – nobody messes with them, do they? Not that I’m actually advocatin’ sendin’ out our parishioners to blow up abortion clinics – though that would make the bitches think twice about murderin’ their babies – I’m just sayin’ that you don’t see anyone takin’ the piss out of the Muslims now, do you? You don’t get any feckin’ comedians or gobshites on the web crackin’ jokes about Imams buggerin’ kiddies, do you?”
Most leading theologians agree that Hatchet’s already slim chances of becoming Pope were dashed completely by his recent intervention in the child abuse scandals which had threatened to engulf Benedict XVI’s papacy. “All he said was that we were lookin’ at it from the wrong perspective,” says Bishop O’Fugh. “Those kiddies weren’t victims – they were blessed! The so-called abuse they suffered at the hands of priests were actually a test from God – the Bible’s full of that sort of thing: just look at the Book of Job! It was a brilliant bit of scholarship on Hatchet’s part – an attempt to reconcile this alleged abuse with the fact that its alleged perpetrators were supposedly agents of the Almighty!” Controversially, O’Fugh is convinced that the election of Pope Francis was a mistake and is calling for a re-run of the ballot. “I have it on good authority that the white smoke billowin’ out of the chimney was a mistake – they hadn’t actually elected a new Pope at that point,” he confides. “As I understand it, the Cardinals had found a stash of kiddie porn in the room – probably planted by bloody protestants or atheists – and, in order to avoid another scandal, burned the filth in the stove, inadvertently causin’ the white smoke. When they realised what had happened, they panicked and picked a new Pope by drawin’ lots! I mean, they felt that had no choice, the media were clamourin’ for a name and those bloody marchin’ bands were already stampin’ around the square!”