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The Next Pope

Within minutes of the shocking announcement that Pope Benedict XVI would resign, the betting on who would be the next Pope began. The early line in Vegas made Cardinals Marc Ouellet of Canada and Peter Turkson of Ghana prohibitive favorites.

Ouellet, the head of the Congregation of Bishops, would be a logical choice given his place in the heirarchy. Turkson, if elected, would be the first black Pope, and would certainly appeal to the fast-growing Catholic population in Africa. Both men share the outgoing Pope’s extreme conservative leanings, which have alienated many Catholics in Europe and the United States.

Come on, guys, way too predictable. It’s time for the Church to think outside the box. Pope Benedict is the first Pope to resign in six centuries. If you’re going to go back to old traditions, why not go all the way back to the beginning? All the early disciples were Jewish. Saint Peter, the founder of the Church, was Jewish. Why not a Jewish Pope? 

Look, at a time when the Catholic Church seems focused on losing as much influence as possible in the West, what better way to accelerate the trend than to appoint a rabbi as Pope? Let’s face it: nobody listens to rabbis.

Oh, sure, virtually every congregation has one, and rabbis perform essential functions like giving sermons and officiating at bar mitzvahs and weddings and funerals, but no matter how many times they ask their congregants to keep kosher and not work or shop on the sabbath or fast on Yom Kippur, they’re pretty much universally ignored.

Also, because the rabbinate doesn’t answer to a central authority, priests under a Jewish Pope would be a lot more free to deal with the individual needs of their own congregations without the heavy hand of Rome interfering all the time. So each individual congregation would be free to ignore its own rabbi rather than having to go to the trouble of tuning out the entire Vatican.

Finally, a Jewish Pope would most likely be married. Getting rid of the absurd prohibition against priests marrying would go a long way toward putting the whole ugly pedophile scandal to rest for good. Rabbis, unlike priests, actually have some experience with marriage and sex, and a Jewish Pope would not have a lot of patience with priests who torment boys. He would understand that that’s a job reserved for Jewish mothers, and that the abuse should be entirely emotional, not physical.

I know this is a long shot, but I think my idea is a winner. 

Assuming, though, that this is not going to happen, I’m reduced to pondering how the Vatican will announce the election of Cardinal Turkson, if he’s the choice. Will it still be white smoke, or will they dare reverse the tradition and announce the first black Pope with black smoke?

Just wondering.