"You had to see that coming," veteran Republican political operative Joe Redstate said when contacted about the announcement. "The current Pope is far too liberal. When you stray from Tea Party orthodoxy, you get a more conservative challenger in the next election cycle. That's the way those guys roll."
But the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church. How can the Tea Party defeat him?
"We're not intimidated. He still had to win an election to get the job, didn't he? When they hold the next one, the Tea Party will be ready for him. This guy has just gone too far. When he goes around saying you shouldn't judge gays, atheists or abortions, he's trampling over our fundamental rights. Hating gays, atheists and abortion is a proud American and Catholic tradition, written by our Founding Fathers into the Constitution and Jesus into the Bible, right alongside our right to unfettered access to as many guns as we want and the fact that global warming is nonsense."
I don't recall any of that being in the Constitution or the Bible.
"It's there. Ask the Supreme Court, or Pat Robertson. And the Popes, frankly, have always been a little weak on guns and global warming. The Tea Party just figures that with all that candle, incense and white smoke burning, it's pretty obvious the Church doesn't care much about its carbon footprint. And while the current crop of bishops don't usually strap gats, the Swiss Guard still can swing a mean halberd. The last pope was the perfect pope, as far as Republicans were concerned. Distant, absolutely purist on doctrine, with a fine taste in art, robes and his own personal cologne. He was the Mitt Romney of popes, except Romney looked like a movie star and Benedict looked like a giant, aged lemur. This new guy is just a slobbering populist. I mean, is it possible we have a socialist Pope? We need to ask that question! Not to mention he's an immigrant! He's from South America! Isn't Mexico in South America?
No, Joe, not so much.
"Well, it's close enough. There's no need to go south of the border to pick a Pope. There are plenty of mean and musty old European cardinals that would make fine Popes. Guys who can correct doctrinal errors or seduce an altar boy in seven different languages! Real, old school candidates for Pope. The Tea Party could get behind any one of them."
Why does the Tea Party even care about the papacy?
"Because the Catholic Church and the Tea Party believe in the same principle—that any government that is run by a small, narrow-minded group of people with a monocultural background and an iron grip on power is the best way to achieve the greatest amount of freedom for all, and also to own the nicest statues."
You're aware we don't actually know when the next Papal election is coming up, right, Joe?
"Whenever it is, we'll be ready for it. And don't rule out a bold move. The Tea Party could get behind an American pope. We have a surplus of candidates anyway. They can't all be President. One of them could end up Pope. Marco Rubio, for example. How long has it been since we had a young Pope with a full head of hair? It would be like having another John Kennedy in the Vatican. Or Ted Cruz? The dude already thinks he's infallible. Or Mitch McConnell?"
The Tea Party is running against Mitch McConnell, you know.
"I know that. And I don't even think Mitch is Catholic. But look at him! The weak, flabby chins, the round, wire-rimmed clerical specs, the deathly pale complexion, the rumors of a secret gay background. He's silently screaming SCREW THE SENATE! I WANNA BE POPE! in my opinion."
If the Tea Party takes over the Catholic Church, what changes do you think they'll make?
"No more free wine and wafers at Mass, for one thing. If there's one thing the Tea Party can't stand it's wasteful giveaway programs."