Thursday, March 14, 2013

The selection of Pope Francis I was roundly applauded today by New York's Timothy Cardinal Dolan. (Yes, if the Catholic Church were in charge, our children would be playing with Potato Mr. Head.) Still, he warned progressive Catholics that they probably won't see any changes in the church's message. What the new Pope can do, he said, is change the way that message is delivered.

The Church, apparently, is like Kmart. A couple thousand years ago somebody decided what they were going to sell, and now they just occasionally dust it off and wait for the world to suddenly appreciate six-carat gold jewelry designed by the star of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Nothing changes except what the chick at the cash register is eating while she's helping you. No, the new leader's job isn't updating the stock to reflect a change in culture: it's trying to convince you that you need a Mars Needs Moms sleeping bag.

We won't just wish the dude luck, though, which he's obviously going to need. We'll also offer him four simple ways to make a suspicious populace more open to the same old tune. Pope Francis I would be wise to:

Acknowledge the change in culture. Pope Benedict was 78 when he was selected, so Francis is a whippersnapper at 75. If he's smart, he'll add a fresh new spin to the Vatican that shows they're keeping up with the time. Look for the capitol of Turkey to be called Constantinople rather than Byzantium, and for Gregorian chants to be replaced by Patti Page.

Use populist language. I don't know about you, but I'd rather watch a baseball game than go to church, so I'd love it if the Pope used sports metaphors to get his point across. "Say Derek Jeter hits a ground ball to left field," he could lecture, "and starts rounding the bases. Is he going to stop and bang the dude at third? No, he most certainly would not."

Make jokes! Everybody loves Jerry Seinfeld, so Francis could imitate that kind of observational humor. "God doesn't just hate contraception because it's an abomination to his natural law," he could say. "You ever try putting on a rubber when you're banging? Talk about going flaccidly among the noise and haste!"

Get a rap name. Now in da house? Pope Boogly Oogly I.

Second choice: Ole Wheezy

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