Wouldn’t it be a great gig to step out onto a balcony above hundreds of thousands of cheering, praying fans? (or be in control of rickzworld?) Ever wonder what it would be like to be in charge of an enterprise that has masses of gold, jewels, art, employees, customers, and pricey real estate scattered throughout virtually every nation on the planet? Well, just raise your hand (palm out) and try your hand at being the Holy Father; here’s how.
Things you’ll need include a rudimentary knowledge of Latin, as well as both an X and a Y chromosome.
Your first step in being a pope is being a male. That’s right, ladies. I’m sorry, but unfortunately the career track for female popes will likely keep hitting that glass cathedral ceiling for quite some time yet (at least until after there’s a Jewish pope). However, if you don’t mind settling for the power BEHIND St. Peter’s throne, you could always aim for becoming the concubine of the pope, a role that has been filled in the past by women such as Marozia (in 904; Pope Sergius III) and Giulia Farnese (ca. 1495; Pope Alexander VI), among others. Behind every great man is an even greater woman!
To become a truly memorable pope, shop about for a really cool and striking name. Don’t go the route of Angelo Giuseppe Roncali, who in 1958 simply became Pope John XXIII, just one more in a line of a couple dozen Johns. Avoid the boring trap fallen into by Giovanni Ganganelli, who, around the time of the American Revolution, served as Pope Clement XIV. Clement? Really? Weren’t thirteen Clements quite enough? Instead of choosing such a forgettable name, take your cue from such past popes as Telesphorus, Fabian, Zephyrinus, Eusebius and Adeodalus. Step it up, and amaze us with your originality!
To become pope, it would be nice if you were pious, religious, kind, considerate, devout, humble, etc., but it’s really not essential. After all, in addition to the various perverts and adulterers who have sat on the Vatican throne, Gregory VII was a master forger, Pius XII was a racist and anti-Semite, Benedict V was a rapist and thief, Urban II sold women and children into slavery, and Stephen VII dragged the corpse of his predecessor out of its crypt to stand trial (and suffer a severe verbal haranguing). Just try to keep your worst excesses in check, and surround yourself with a synod of bishops who will have your back.
Your next step is to check out how you look in a floor-length red dress. Or black dress. Or white dress. With lots of buttons. And 40 pounds of intricate gold-thread stitching. For you’ll soon be stylin’ in your color-coordinated pope-mobile, and you’ll want to cut a fine figure for the TV cameras or when splashed across six columns of ‘la Repubblica’. Accessorize with a cute beanie, and by selecting a honking-big crucifix of shimmering gold on a Flavor Flav chain, and a bejeweled ring that would’ve made Liberace blush.
Learn the sign of the cross — it’s just about the only thing you MUST get right, from the get-go. It consists of successively touching the right forefinger to brow, chest, left shoulder, right shoulder. Remember: there’s no crossing of arms or waggle of hips — that’s the Macarena.
Bone up on your Gregorian chanting; you know — that plodding monotonic singsong that echoes so sonorously throughout a Gothic apse on a Sunday morn. Don’t worry; it’s easy to fake. Just pretend your crooning the bass part in a slow Sha-Na-Na chorus, or thrumming along as back-up to one of George Harrison’s more boring Indian ragas. No one will know the difference, believe me.
Perfect being a buzzkill. Tell Grandma, “I’m not at all sure that German chocolate cake is good for your blood sugar!” Mention to your lout of a brother-in-law that ‘demon rum’ has been the downfall of many an aspiring used-car salesman. This will be great training for when you have to write one of those encyclicals condemning gambling, fornication, and the use of recreational drugs.
Once you’ve mastered these steps, you’ll be well on your way to wearing your miter with pride. All you need to do now is lavish some serious lire on the members of the College of Cardinals and wait for that white smoke! And the best part of being pope is ultimate job security: it’s for life, and if you play your cards right, maybe even afterlife.
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