Dear Mr. Pope:
My name is Gregor. I’m a luminary, just like you. But, today, I’m writing mano-a-mano, friend to friend, just two guys lipping over a few important issues. When you write back, please tell me your real name. In the meantime, I’ll call you “Papa.” All my Italian friends use the term, and I like them all.
Like you, I’m old. That means I’ve picked up a few ideas along the way. I’d like to share with you. Maybe you would like to do the same? It would be unkind to just throw this letter away. You wouldn’t do that, would you?
I think it would be best if you lose all those stuffy dresses you wear. A simple shirt and pants would be better. I’ve heard rumors that you once took the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. So, poverty means you need to dress down a bit. I suspect this would appeal to the 1+ billion folks who pay your bills. None of them are running around in fancy dresses. You need to have more appeal to the masses. Besides, it would make you look a little thinner. I understand that all those sumptuous meals can put on the pounds. You might want to try a light salad sometime, or maybe something from Mickey D. I know you have fast food over there. That’s where most of us eat and you might make some new friends.
On the subject of chastity, I’ll just wait until my next letter. I understand you’re in deep doo-doo on this issue, so I’ll give you some breathing room. Please don’t forget about it, though. That hasn’t worked well in the past.
As to obedience, you should no longer have a problem. Since you’re the Main Man these days, you don’t have a boss any longer. This presents you with a rare opportunity to do the right thing.
You need to start a lottery. You need to start giving away stuff. You’ve been hoarding for too long. Now, I understand that you may want to save some stuff for your museum. That’s OK. But I know from the History Channel that you have lots of nice things laying around the Vatican. Why not liquidate some of it, start a lottery, and give your followers a chance at comfort? It’s works over here in the U.S. Give it a try.
You should digitize the Vatican Archives and put it all online. After all, sharing is a good thing, right? So you say, anyway. Why not put your words into action. Digitize, share, be a hero. Then, give everyone a computer who needs one. Preload it with links to your new, digitized archives. Let the rest of us see what you have down there. Forget Dan Brown. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.
When are you going to get behind equal rights for women? You really need to catch up, Papa. You’re looking out of sync with the rest of us. So, get behind the cause, open up opportunities, enjoy the pleasures of men and women working together for a common goal. If this is merely a testosterone issue, remember what happened to Lance Armstrong. It’s wise to pay attention to current events.
A mandatory retirement age might be helpful. You have too many old geezers running around the Vatican. Now, I don’t mean to sound harsh about this. Geezers have their place. But not when they are so stuck in the old days. If some geezer Cardinal can’t keep up, send him off to a nice retreat center. Give him three hots and a cot, all the prayers he needs, but get him off the main stage. Make more room for those with fresh ideas.
This celibacy thing has got to go. It isn’t working anyway. Step up to the times and you’ll be a happier Papa.
Stop trying to keep secrets. You guys are doing a lousy job of it anyway. Don’t bother. Just tell it like it is. Your followers are smart enough, and tough enough, to deal with the truth. So, give them a break. You need a better press agent.
Convert the pope-mobile to a biomass engine. You’re doing a lot of swamp gas anyway. Why not divert some to the pope-mobile? Green is good, Papa.
Invite Dan Brown to a big party in Vatican Square. Let him bring along a few thousand of his closest friends. Serve a nice Italian meal. Thank him for all the free publicity. He’s been a good agent for you. Treat him right, OK?
I wish you the best, Papa. It’s clear that you have a tough job. But you also have some juice to use, some political capital as they say over here. Why not spend it? I mean, don’t spent it on yourself! That wouldn’t be good. Spend it on all those folks who’ve been paying your bills all these years.
Remember, Papa, when you write back please tell me your real name. I want us to be friends, to be on a first-name basis. Could you also send an autographed picture for my collection?
PS. If you’re still doing the prayer thing, please think about me from time to time. My lobotomy didn’t go well.
Gregor lives here.