EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the April 25, 2005, issue of National Review, in Rob Long’s regular “The Long View” spot.
College of Cardinals
St. Peter’s Basilica
I am going to suggest something to you, and I know that your first impulse is going to be to say no. But I want you to put aside your natural skepticism and your instant resistance to new ideas–something I’m hoping to change! But I’m getting ahead of myself!–and keep your minds open.
As you know, I’ve been out of office since January 2001. And in that time, I’ve had some joy (wrote a book; lost some weight) and some tears (9/11; tsunami; bypass), but I’ll be honest: I’ve been searching for something . . . something new and challenging and different to do with myself for the next 20 or so years. What I’m looking for isn’t just another job. Another election. Another rope line. Blah blah blah.
Been there, done that.
What I’m looking for is a new calling. A new mission. Something I can really sink my teeth into.
And what are you looking for? I think I know what you’re looking for: dynamism, popularity, a proven affinity for the peoples of the Third World, youthful exuberance, the ability to talk about religious themes without making people go “Oy!”–that’s the profile of the next pope, isn’t it? And if it isn’t, shouldn’t it be?
Gentlemen–and you are all gentlemen (for now! But I’m getting ahead of myself again!)–I know that when you think of the words “Supreme Pontiff” you don’t automatically think of “Bill Clinton,” but I want you to take a deep breath, close your eyes, and just let the words “Pope Bill I” sound in your ears…
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