Too Pope-ed to Pop
I have to confess, I’m Pope-ed out.
I can hear the cascading chorus of condemnation now, and frankly I agree: Pope is not a verb, transitive or otherwise. One cannot Pope or be Pope-ed. You can’t conjugate the Pope, as in I Pope, you Pope, we all Pope. My spell check is going crazy. With apologies to Chuck Berry, one cannot be “too Pope-ed to pop, too old a soul.”
Alright already, forgive me for sinning again the Mother Tongue. I have just reached my limit. Have you tried reading a newspaper or watching TV or listening to the radio lately? It’s Pope-Pope here, Pope-Pope there, here a Pope, there a Pope, well, you get the idea.
Look, I like a good conclave as much as the next lapsed or a la carte Catholic. I was into it for the first week or three: the historical resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the speculation about who would succeed him, the black smoke, the white smoke, the Cardinals in their scarlet cassocks — virtually all of whom looked like they hadn’t missed a meal, or a midnight snack, in decades.
But then it just wouldn’t stop. From February 11 2013, when Benedict resigned — the first Pope to do so in 598 years, oops, sorry, you must know this by heart — almost into the spring, it was all Pope all the time. It was like being forced to watch a “Three’s Company” marathon or the winter Olympics from start to finish.
With all due respect, the selection of a new Pope is kind of like the luge. For years on end we pay zero attention to the luge, and then all of a sudden it’s the Olympics and we start watching the luge like it was the most important things in our lives. Will Lichtenstein nip Luxemburg to capture the Bronze?
It would be one thing if this was like the last time a Pope resigned. And by the way, it wasn’t 600 years ago like every broadcaster and his grandmother are saying: it was 598 years ago. If you’re going to drive me batty with this Pope business, the least they could do was get it right! It was in 1415: do the freakin' math, will ya!
Sorry about that. So in 1415, Gregory XII resigned because there were three Popes claiming to be Pope. Sounds like a reality TV show, doesn’t it? Three Popes! Who gets to wear the big hat? Can’t you just imagine what the media today would make of that! They’d break into the Super Bowl to report that story.
But wait, the resignation before that one was even better: Pope Celestine V was a recluse who didn’t want to be Pope in the first place, so he resigned to wander in the mountains. To make sure he didn’t wander back to Rome, his successor, Boniface VIII, had Celestine imprisoned. The good news is that Celestine is now a saint and Boniface isn’t. Then before that, another Pope was bribed to resign. Dern, I was born too late!
So will Pope Francis throw Pope Benedict in the clink? I doubt it. He seems like a nice fellow. Everybody says so and will be saying so in print, on TV and the radio for weeks to come. He takes public transportation. He’s an Argentine of Italian descent. He’s 76 years old, two years younger than Benedict when he was chosen. He chose the name Francis after Francis of Assisi, the saint who, like Jesus, forsook all worldly things and lived a life of simplicity and poverty.
By summer, the new Pope will be old news, unless he somehow manages to live like his namesake.