It was in the year 2013 in a little country within the land of Italy that an old pope put down his robe and said: I am tired.
In the weeks that followed the cardinals united to elect a new boss and as custom had it, they locked themselves away in an old place with an old fireplace that smoked badly.
Among the old men, was a cardinal from the land of Sweden who went by the name of Sven. This was a strange man who seemed to be out of touch with the world. When you asked him what he thought about homosexual priests, he would answer: Eggs, easy over. Best breakfast ever. If you asked him whether he had slept well, he would answer: God is in the stones that sleep.
The conclave went as it always did. The cardinals hugged the fireplace and starved of oxygen it smoked like hell. A big black plume could be seen above the old building. The people outside groaned in the cold.
They discussed who should be the next boss and everyone made his little speech in an old and wise voice.
I believe that Enrico from Bolivia should lead us through the valley of darkness
Wise nodding around.
I believe that William of New Zealand should lead us to the light of God.
Amen, they muttered.
This went on for a while until the big cardinal from Ghana asked cardinal Sven to move over. He answered:
God believes that we should make some space for each other.
They nodded and moved out a bit. The chimney sighed with relief and let out a lovely cloud of white smoke.
The people roared outside and the cardinals stared at Sven in disbelief.
God had spoken.
Pope Sven the first, sat by his favourite window when cardinal O’Really was ushered in.
Your holiness, I have distressing news.
Please my friend, sit with me. What burdens your heart.
Your holiness, one of my priests has been abusing the choir boys for the past 17 years. The press is downstairs, beating down the door.
My friend, do you feel the cool breeze from the window?
The cardinal raised his eyebrows.
My friend, who is it that abused those boys?
It was father McShinner, your holiness.
Pope Sven turned his face to the sun and took a long deep breath and repeated his question.
My friend, I asked who is it that abused those poor boys?
The cardinal shot up, red faced.
Yes, of course. I’m sorry your holiness.
The news papers were delighted. POPE SVEN 1ST WANTS A FULL INVESTIGATION. In the associated editorials the analysts lauded the church for its pragmatic and realistic approach.
Pope Sven read the newspapers and laughed heartily. He loved these people. He loved the world. He loved it when everything was as it should be.
He was rubbing the tears of laughter from his eyes when cardinal Von Gestern was presented to him.
Your holiness, I have very distressing news.
Sit down my friend. Please, have a cookie. These were baked with the love of God and the help of Muriel from Pawtucket.
Your holiness, four priests in my country have openly participated in a gay parade! They were wearing nothing under their untied robes!
Pope Sven beamed.
Did they have fun? Was it a happy event?
Cardinal Von Gestern stood up, his chair fell back.
But your holiness, these men are homosexuals!
Pope Sven frowned and then, a contented smile settled on his face.
My friend, who is it that is this homosexual.
Cardinal Von Gestern recited the names but pope Sven stopped him and repeated his question.
The newspapers were delighted. POPE SVEN 1ST WANTS A PUBLIC DEBATE ON HOMOSEXUALITY. In the associated analysis, news editors quoted gay priests who expressed their joy of final acceptance in tears.
In a smaller article the Pope was also quoted as reconsidering the role of women. He made a clear statement on women and their service to God. Apparently a “Saintly Muriel” had made him consider the possible ordainment of women in all roles in church.
Pope Sven read this and he slapped his knees in laughter. How he loved these people.
Following his tremendous success in dealing with child abuse, homosexuality and ordained women, Pope Sven had a never ending stream of visitors that asked for his help.
How do we get people to attend church? He answered: Who is it that attends church? The churches erected billboards “God is here!”.
How can we save the environment? He answered: Who is it that is the environment? People fell to their knees sobbing. Clutching grass, they cried: We are sorry, we are sorry.
How do we stopped armed conflict? He replied: Who is it that is fighting? A rebel looked into the eyes of the soldier at his gunpoint and exclaimed: Ahmed, my brother! Do you remember when we skipped school to steal figs?
One day, a young woman was presented to Pope Sven.
Please, sit with me, said Pope Sven as he moved over to the side of his bench. What is it that you carry in your heart?
My name is Kim, she said. I have come here for your instruction. Please teach me?
Pope Sven got up from the bench and knelt in front of the woman. He took her hand in his and asked.
Who are you?
I am an empty vessel in need of wisdom.
Kim looked into Pope Sven’s deep blue eyes.
You are light.
Kim squeezed Pope Sven’s hands.
Pope Sven closed his eyes and his head began to shake softly at first, then more and more until he fell back, clutching his belly.
And he laughed and laughed. He got up and danced around the room, tears streaming down his face. Kim watched him bemused from the bench. She smiled and then, she joined him, laughing and dancing.
From that day, Kim sat next to Pope Sven every time the cardinals came. They would ask their questions and Pope Sven would look at Kim and nod. Kim would answer the question: Who is it that…
And when the cardinal would leave, ashamed at his inability to find such a profound answer himself, Kim and Pope Sven would laugh heartily and look out of the window.
It was a lovely day, and the scent of a potted Hyacinth entered the holy space embracing a man and a woman.