A sports writer as new pope? Heaven help us

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 30, 2005

I was happy to hear Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was selected our newest pope. It was a great moment when Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his Ceremony of Investiture this past Sunday.

But I can't help wonder what the Catholic Church would be like if I had been chosen as the newest pope.

Now before you scoff, as a male Catholic I am eligible to become pope, but many of the hierarchy of the Church must have felt threatened by my eligibility because they passed a modern law stating all papal candidates had to at least hold the title of bishop.

Email newsletter signup

Oh sure, you can't believe a sports writer could join the successors of Peter as the head of the Church on earth, but I beg to differ.

First, I would reach out to the youth of the Church by offering chocolate or vanilla communion wafers. However, I would stop short of adding cream filling - i.e. Oreos - for those receiving their First Communion.

Taking a sports twist, each church should sell tickets to Sunday Mass. People always complain young people don't like baseball games because they're too long, so in order to prevent young people from finding Mass too long for their short attention spans, I propose to cut off the problem in advance by collecting money before the service, thus eliminating the passing of the collection plate and shortening the service.

Luxury pews would cost more, but they would have more comfortable kneelers and padded seating. People who showed up at the last minute would sit in the back at a cheap-seat rate. On those crowded days, standing room only would be sold with a self-serve communion table.

Obviously, I'm joking. But isn't it amazing how the media in this country wants to tell the Catholic Church how it should run its business or what it should teach?

It has been reported that Pope Benedict XVI likes Americans, but he doesn't appreciate the American press. Can you blame him?

The Pope was chosen on his love of God and his belief to follow the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. The media often has a liberal viewpoint and prefers to live by the idea that as long as it feels good or satisfies the human desires right now, that's what should be taught.

After John Paul II died, the media speculated on his successor and tried to analyze who should be elected. They wanted

the Church to select someone from South America or Africa as if the church was trying to carry the southern vote. This isn't a presidential election.

The analysts were having a field day on the all-news networks. Not only did they have something to fill air time, they talked about the process in a manner that sounded more like the halftime commentary of a Notre Dame-Boston College football game.

You don't campaign to become pope. I found out the hard way. I don't know what I'm going to do with the 117 cardinal-red ink pens inscribed, "Don't Be A Dope, Vote Walker Pope."

Besides my lack of knowledge regarding the election process, I was at a disadvantage. Not only was Pope Benedict in the "Cardinal click," he speaks five different languages. I've barely mastered English, I remember about two dozen words from high school Spanish, and I'm almost positive that the prison lingo and profanity I picked up teaching at the youth correctional facility don't count.

I'm also in left field because I'm in sports as a profession and Benedict is really into this religion thing.

Sports and religion do cross paths, but that doesn't mean one dictates what the other should do. Religion is about beliefs concerning God and it's not a political debate. If you don't buy into one faith, pick another. But each church is guided by those beliefs, not what the media determines should be taught.

As for Pope Benedict, I pray that God continues to guide him but, with all due respect, I realize that he's 78 years old. Maybe I should hang onto those ink pens after all. How does Pope Rockne sound?

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.