An Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI

Dear Comrade Benedict,

Your resignation has taken many people by surprise. Well, when I say people, I mean Catholics. Is there any other kind?

I love Catholics. I am about as Catholic as you can get without actually being Catholic. I almost became one a couple of years ago but Brenda wouldn’t let me join the line for biscuits and wine. That’s what happens when you marry a heathen. Anyway, let us not talk of marriage. Work of the devil, it is.

The great news is that Christianity is booming in Africa thanks to a general worsening of socio-economic conditions, an increase in Western apathy and an uptick in civil strife. More than ever, people need to believe there is a reason for it all – that there is someone out there with a grand plan who, if they pray hard enough, will rescue them.

There is a God-sized hole in the third world market and we’re damn well going to fill it. It’s good for us and good for them. Praise the lord and pass the collection plate.

Word on the street is that you’re the first pope to resign in something like 700 years. That’s quite something. There aren’t many people who would voluntarily give up a cushy job for life. You only have to look at our civil service to know that.

Did you get a better offer? Something on an island in the Caribbean, perhaps? Saying a few Hail Marys at breakfast, drinking a few Bloody Marys at lunch, signing a couple of autographs, baptising drunk Australian girls and waggling your hips to a rootsy reggae beat at a laid-back beach bar is just what you need right now. Maybe I’m thinking of me.

By the way, I was shocked to hear you have a pacemaker. I always thought that was for people whose hearts were scarred from years of drug abuse. On the other hand, the air in some parts of Rome must be 50% nitrogen, 30% oxygen and 20% amyl nitrate.

Hang on. Aren’t you dead set against science? You know, stem cell research, the internal combustion engine, evolution – that sort of thing. I would have thought that having a battery-operated device implanted in your chest to keep you alive might not be the best of career moves. What if Jesus wants you for a sunbeam but then has to wait because you keep putting in new batteries?

Tell me honestly. Did you jump, or, like God’s banker Roberto Calvi who was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge, were you pushed?

You say you are leaving of your own free will, but I’m not convinced. Do you remember Zambia’s Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo? Of course you do. He married a Korean acupuncturist – in a Moonie wedding of all things – and soon after was “invited” to the Vatican for a bit of a chat with you and the lads. He was never the same after that.

Is this what happened to you? Did the Italian cardinals unexpectedly drop by the papal boudoir for a quiet word late on a Friday night? Omerta. I understand.

You know what I find really funny, though? That the Vatican Bank – suspected of washing Sicilian mob money – is officially called the Institute for Works of Religion. We have a similar money laundering operation here in South Africa. It’s called the Ministry of Public Works.

You and I have a lot in common. We’re both called Ben even though we changed our names for reasons of personal safety. You served in the Hitler Youth; I served in the SADF. You wear dresses; I wear kikois. You were born in Germany; I drink Windhoek lager. Your father was a policeman; so was mine. Your sister never married; nor did mine. You have 1.5 million followers on Twitter; I have 4 000. Once people realise you’re unemployed, we’ll have the same amount.

There are a few changes I’d like to make when I get the job. For a start, I will be upgrading the popemobile. If I have to drive around in a modified golf cart, I want it to be fitted with a twin-turbo V8 and Pirelli tyres.

I want to drive out into St Peter’s Square and have some kind of device that sprays holy water over the crowd while I do doughnuts around the Basilica.

People will love me for it and I am sure Jeremy Clarkson will invite me onto his show. Can you imagine how many converts we could win if the next pope appeared on Top Gear?

I will also insist that priests get married, but only because I regard it as a form of penance. Maybe that will stop them from dipping into the altar boys.

I have seen you releasing white doves on the odd occasion. I don’t know what their crime was, but I’m not a big supporter of early release programmes for any offender, whatever their race, species or gender.

Instead of white doves, I think I will release white supremacists. Not into society, obviously, but perhaps into some sort of arena into which we could also release lions. When in Rome, right?

I will also lose the skullcap. It’s a bit gay for my liking. I was going to say Jewish but I would rather be accused of homophobia than anti-Semitism. The last thing I need is an angry Zionist squirting poison down my earhole while I’m asleep on a park bench.

And I will do away with Ash Wednesday. My friend Ted came around in the middle of the week with an ounce of Afghan black and it was surprisingly easy to give up all sorts of things for Lent after running that little number through the hubbly. So it will be Hash Wednesday from now on.

I don’t really buy your story that you’re resigning because you’re too frail for the job. You don’t need much strength to lead a billion Catholics. It’s not as if you have to put on your hiking boots and take them for long walks every weekend.

Your flock will do whatever you tell them to do. In fact, I’m surprised you even bother getting out of bed. When I am pope, I will sleep late and issue edicts from beneath the papal duvet.

I think the cardinals left a horse’s head in your bed because you were becoming too soft.

By now, the Vatican should have nuclear weapons. How else are you going to attack the headquarters of Durex, let alone destroy central Africa (because that’s where Aids started after a gay tourist from San Francisco had sex with a green monkey)?

I will crack the whip, my friend. By the time I am finished, the Crusades will look like a stroll in the park.

Forget the homos and the hippies. I’m going Old Testament.

I’m going after the eaters of pork, shellfish and leavened bread, the clean-shaven, the tattooed, the divorced, the wearers of blended fabrics, magicians and fortune-tellers, the uncircumcised, anyone who spills his seed on the ground, the players of football on Sundays, Jehovah’s Witnesses, bookies, people who worship or watch Idols and women who cook while menstruating.

By the time I’m done, the world will be a better place for all of us. Well, for the few who are left, anyway.

People seem to want the next pope to be an African. I understand the Vatican’s dilemma. The problem with an African pope is that he would be, well, not to put too fine a point on it, black. And you never know when these people might go back to burning witches and eating each other.

This is why I am an ideal candidate for the job. I am from Africa and yet I look like a European. How perfect is that?

Habemus Papam, my bru!

 

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