Good morning, dearest ones. I am Cardinal Baddy, but you can simply call me “baddy”. I am very modern and in touch with the times, you know…
Let me tell you first that I am a bad cardinal. My priests do what they please, some are homosexual, some have a mistress, many don’t believe in God, Mass is generally an irreverent mess. But I am very popular with the press, and a darling among the rich and powerful; I lead a pampered, privileged life, so why should I care; I don’t believe in God anyway…
I will soon be locked in the Sistine Chapel, so before I do let me tell you what my plans are.
My buddies and I want, at all costs, avoid a Pope really intentioned to be Pope. One of those chaps believing they can tell us what to do, and the like. This would be disastrous. Not only would it mean the end of my tranquil life, but it could even mean the end of my privileges. If the new chap started to look at the state of my archdiocese, I could end up as Nuncio in some country plagued by flies in no time! I have also, ahem, covered for one or two of my buddies who had a weakness for young boys; a friend in need, and all that. In retrospect, this was not a good move. It must never come out.
No, what my friends and I (plenty of us in the Conclave) need is someone who leaves us alone, and allows the party to go on undisturbed. A weak, harmless, peaceful guy, who does not even understand what is going on. We won’t say it openly, of course. We will push for a “pastoral” man, a man able to “connect”, and bring to the world the “gentleness” of the Church. In short, a puppet.
We would love to have one from the Third World; erm, excuse me: a developing country, then they are the most usable puppets. South America doesn’t exactly fit, but will do admirably anyway. Either way, we’d love some socialism and some anti-capitalist rhetoric. Very popular, keeps you at peace with populist governments and it is just the ticket at my cocktail parties.
Ideally, he should be a very prayerful man. Gentle, kind. The one the newspapers would love to have on the first page. Also, no managerial experience, and a history of letting other people do what they want. We need a poster boy, not a leader.
When we have persuaded the planet the Church has chosen a holy man of God, we will be able to get to work seriously. Our men in the Vatican will have him trained in no time, because not knowing the machinery of the Vatican – or any machinery, comes to that – he will follow whatever they “suggest” with great docility. They will stress with him how complex and multi-faceted the Church is; the need to leave great autonomy to the local bishops; the importance and modernity of a non-authoritative style; the necessity to be “inclusive”.
We will, in the meantime, continue to arrange matters our own way. We will allude to “reforms” whenever we think we need a popularity boost; we will talk endlessly of women, peace, and social justice; we’ll give the lapsed, contracepting, divorcing, remarrying, buggering Catholics to understand we’d love to be on their side, but alas, the duties of the office… They can continue to pay, though, because they know our hearts are on their side…
We will also push for a hard stance towards traditionalists, particularly the SSPX, because they are of the greatest danger to us. We’ll try to get rid of Summorum Pontificum if we can, or continue to ignore it if we must, then these conservatives will be our undoing if we allow them to continue to grow undisturbed.
So, I hope I have explained my objective: a weak, popular, prayerful man; harmless with us, but popular with the masses; not too smart, or he will see through our little game; clueless, and ready to be guided by our men in all important matters; from a far away and poor country, so we can play the populist card; flexible with words, so we can arrange the needs of the spenders without becoming openly heretical.
Yes, the Church in the West will continue to shrink; but frankly, who cares? Do I believe in God, that I should be worried about the next centuries? When I’m gone, I’m gone, but as long as I am here I want to make the most of it. If must be, I’ll close some churches, then some more. I’ll die a Cardinal Archbishop anyway.
Awfully sorry now, I must make the last preparations.
Wish us good luck.