We've got white smoke; we've got cheering crowds, habemus papam, as they say.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio got the gig and, even though his name ends in a vowel and looks like it should be preceded by a nickname, he's not Italian. For the third time in a row, the College of Cardinals has elected a non-Italian pope, signalling something.
Bergoglio is a soccer fan from Argentina. He's a Jesuit, the Marines of the Catholic Church. And he's taking a brand-new name, one no pope has ever used: From here on out, he's Pope Francis I.
Which kinda pisses me off, because it's my middle name and was my father's name, and I fully intended to use it if I was elected Pope. (I came thisclose to running this year, but backed out at the last minute because it would have conflicted with the NFL's free-agency season.)
So we got ourselves a new Pope. As usual, no one knows much about these guys, so we turn to nerds who follow such things, and they say Francis I is known for hitting the streets and being somewhat of a moderate.
But we'll see. We're keeping our eye on him, and here are five very deep questions we're asking.
5. You know what happened to the last pope who took a new name? Albino Luciani became Pope John Paul I when elected in August 1978. Thirty-three days later he died, becoming the William Henry Harrison of popes. Even worse, John Paul's death helped inspire Godfather III, and we all know how well that turned out.
4. Ain't "The Hand of God" enough? How many times is God going to give a huge break to Argentina? In the quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup, Argentina was playing England in a tight, ferocious game. Maradona -- Argentina's druggy superstar -- got free in front of the net and, as the picture clearly shows, never ever came close to touching the ball with his hand. (Instead of "coming close," he pounded the thing into the net,)
Maradona said after the game that "the hand of God" had guided the ball, not him. The referees lived to see another day, so somebody was happy about Argentina's 2-1 win and eventual World Cup trophy.
People in England -- and anywhere that believes in following the rules instead of blatantly, amazingly, obviously breaking them -- thought Argentina and God were good for oh, the next 1,000 years or so.
3. What, even more with the College of Cardinals and Nazis? What is it with the College of Cardinals and their Nazi kick? First they pick a German who was a member of the Hitler Youth, now they pick someone from Argentina. Argentina is to Nazis what Florida is to New York Jews: a nice retirement home. For a while there, Buenos Aires was so lousy with former Nazis trying to hide out in their golden years that you risked being tripped by a goosestep whenever you walked the streets. (The Argentine government never seemed too concerned about it.)
We're not saying Francis I helped hide any Nazis, of course; we're just, you know, wondering why the church can't find any countries without a Nazi past. 2. The dude is 76? Cardinals over 75 are barred from participating in the vote for a new pope, presumably because the church thinks once you hit 76 you become a drooling, feeble semi-vegetable who is best left alone to watch Matlock reruns.
Or, on the other hand, a 76-year-old can oversee a billion or so Catholics and be infallible while doing so.
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Take your pick. Both things are apparently true. It's a theological conundrum, to be sure, but we assume Francis I will still be able to work Matlock into his schedule.
1. Why do you hate America? Do you know how easily we could take you on, Vatican City? We just bring back Cheney to stovepipe the intelligence reports, and the next thing you know, you're (allegedly) crawling with Al Qaeda. And then Vatican City becomes Drone City and it's "hey, stuff happens" when you come crying about "timeless treasures" that have been broken.
None of those "timeless treasures" have "Made in America" stamped on them, we bet. And while we're at it, get this Francis guy to start wearing a flag pin, okay?