You seem positively amped up about the conclave, Father. Do you always get this excited when a new Pope is selected?
"Oh, absolutely. The Conclave is always a grand bash. It's like a Woodstock for we Monsigneurs."
Why should non-Catholics care about who's running the Catholic Church anyway?
"Well, we are the original One True Church. It’s correct that our best years coincided with what are unfairly termed the Dark Ages, when we employed the entire population of Europe as peasant labor to build statues. Then we had a nice couple hundred years when we employed the entire population of Latin America as peasant labor to dig up gold and silver to decorate those statues. So to answer your question, all of your ancestors used to work for us, including the odd one or two we would occasionally burn. And by the way, we still have the statues."
What will happen to the old Pope?
"Catholic theologians figure that the lightning that struck St. Peter’s on the day he announced his resignation and the earthquake that hit his new place are God’s way of saying I’m coming to get you soon, Benny. Whether this is good news or bad news for the former Pope God only knows, although Benedict himself probably has a pretty good idea."
Why does the new Pope change his name upon election?
"Why don’t your Presidents change their names upon election? That's a better question. If your President called himself Abraham Lincoln the Third, he'd probably feel obligated to give better speeches at the minimum. Or he could take a medieval-style name-we Catholics could get behind that. Obama the Smug has a nice ring to it. And he'd get more respect from his political enemies, like Boehner the Lachrymose and Ryan the Sniveler."
What really goes on behind those secret doors when a new Pope is selected?
"Well, not much at first. Even if all the votes are already in the bag for the next Pope no one wants to rush into it—the food in Vatican City is pretty fabulous, and they've been stocking the wine cellar under the Basilica almost since they quit having their lion problem in Rome, if you know what I mean. So on the first five or six ballots the Cardinals usually just write down the names of altar boys they’d like to spank or knock-knock jokes in Latin. After a day or so, though, the South American guys start asking where they can a decent chile relleno, and the Americans suddenly can’t stop playing with their cell phones. Finally, someone screams “If I see another plate of gnocchi I’m gonna excommunicate it!” and they get down to business of making that smoke go white."
What’s your call on who gets to be the next Pontiff?
"There's a lot of speculation this year. People are thinking that some Cardinal from Brazil is in the running just because there's a video of him skateboarding in his vestments on YouTube, but I don't think so. You might have a couple thousand Facebook friends but unless they have red beanies and big rosaries, they don't count for merde when the vote-swapping starts on the Sistine Chapel floor.There's even a rumor that the Conclave might pick a Canadian, eh? My personal favorite is Cyrano the Sour, the Archbishop of Djykstk, but that’s because a moody old European guy who can express a haughty distaste for nearly every natural human yearning in six languages just smells like a Pope to me. But it’s wide open right now. It could be a non-European Pope. It could even be a black Pope. How about that for a big OMG?"
Really? A black Pope?
"No. Don’t be stupid. Amen."