by Jim Harris
As part of his new ministry, Pope Francis has been circling the globe, meeting and befriending people from all walks of life, and it seems to be affecting popular opinion. Just the other day, I heard someone say, “It’s nice to finally have a Pope who’s actually Christian.” I was lucky enough to meet Pope Francis last week when he was in Chestnut Hill, handing out quarters at parking kiosks. I used the occasion to ask him some probing questions.
• Harris: Excuse me, Your Holiness.
• Pope: Yeah, you want to park? I got it, no problem. It’s on me.
• Harris: Thank you, sir, but no; I’d just like to interview you for the local newspaper.”
• Pope: The Local? Sure; I’m familiar with it. Fire away.
• Harris: Thank you so much. How does it feel to be named Time’s “Person of the Year?”
• Pope: To be honest, I’m not impressed. After all, Time’s circulation is not nearly as big as it used to be, and once you’ve been elected Pope, getting on the cover of a magazine is pretty much just chump change. Plus, there wasn’t really any competition this year, just Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and that Miley Cyrus girl who does the “twerking.”
• Harris: Miley Cyrus? Yeah, I guess the bar is pretty low these days. So, what do you think of America so far?
• Pope: Well, my first impression is that it seems to be a country that worships guns. Everybody and their mama has a gun. What on earth is everyone so afraid of? I’ll tell you what you should be afraid of — Hell. You can’t shoot your way out of Hell.
And tell me, why do all the bicyclists here dress like Evel Knievel? They’re all covered in gaudy spandex. They look like circus performers. It’s a bicycle, for crying out loud. You’re not getting shot out of a cannon. I gotta tell you, I am not a fan of pretentious clothing. Like all the Bishops and Cardinals, for instance. They strut around looking like refugees from a Sergeant Pepper album. Get real, people!
And they travel around in limousines. All I’ve got is a 1984 Renault with 186,000 miles on it, but it gets me where I need to go. I’ll tell you though, those drivers in Rome are maniacs. You take your life in your hands. But I came up with a solution. You know how some folks put little a plastic Jesus on the dashboard? Well, I put a full size, inflatable Jesus in my passenger seat. That, plus my “Lord on Board” bumper sticker, really gets the drivers around me to slow down. Plus it allows me to use the carpool lane. It’s a win-win situation.
• Harris: Holy Father, you have clearly angered some Catholic conservatives with your calls for increased inclusiveness in the church and your staunch refusal to judge homosexuals harshly. Is that really how you feel?
• Pope: Of course. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
• Harris: I have never understood that saying, your Holiness, Can you explain it to me? Why would you want a non-sinner to cast the first stone?
• Pope: Well, since non-sinners have more pent-up frustrations, they tend to throw the stones a lot harder. You generally want to put your sinners, your heavy drinkers and the possessed further down in the lineup. That way, the leadoff, non-sinning stoners will have more throwing time. It’s just common sense.
Okay Jim, I can see you’re getting confused. Relax, I’m pulling your leg. This is the 21st century, for goodness sake. No one gets stoned anymore. Well, except for Father Sarducci. He’s been secretly getting stoned in the Vatican wine cellar for a couple of years now. He thinks we don’t notice, but we’re planning a divine intervention. Stay tuned.
• Harris: So, what are you going to do next?
• Pope: Well, I’m not going to Disney World; I’ll tell you that. I plan to visit the poor and just generally shake things up. You can follow me on Twitter if you like. I tweet a lot. I had an email account, too, but I got so much spam I had to shut it down. It was like the Tower of Babel. A lot of hooey. Anyway, here’s my card. Call me if you’re ever in the Vatican. Peace be with you. I’m leaving now to take a trip down to the Gayborhood.