e-mail us


Sic hints at possible run for papacy

Are you one of those who ruthlessly rips the wrapping from Christmas gifts, or do you ease them out before neatly folding the paper? Or do you simply redirect the gifts to Sic in appreciation of -- whatever?

* * *

We’re confident 1998 will be the breakthrough year of Sic’s first infallible pronouncement. Still, we’re not entirely sure. The voice whispering in our ear may be Sic’s hearing aid.

* * *

Prelate in a glasshouse: Archbishop Estanislao Esteban Karlic, president of the Argentine Episcopal Conference, complaining that groups such as the International Monetary Fund were not answerable to the people: “We cannot leave ourselves at the whims of someone we did not elect.”

* * *

Jacinta Mann from Greensburg, Pa., on the Internet writes that our own pope, on his last U.S. trip, asked the chauffeur if he might drive the limo to the airport. The chauffeur did what any chauffeur would do: He got into the back seat. Soon John Paul was barreling down Route 95 at 90 miles an hour.

When he hears the siren and sees the flashing lights, he pulls over. The cop takes one look and discretion dictates that he call headquarters: “I’ve got a really important person pulled over.”

“Not Trump again?” says the chief.

“No, more important than that.”

“You mean, it’s the governor?”

“Bigger than that.”

“Must be the president then?”

“More important than that.”

“So who the heck is it?” yells the chief.

“I don’t know,” says the trooper, “but he’s got the pope for chauffeur.”

* * *

Cynics may say the above makes a mockery of Sic standards. But what if the story is true? Between quantum theory, relativity bending time and space this way and that, cyberstuff, quarks and Our Lady appearing on tree trunks, how do you know that John Paul isn’t -- hey, and don’t forget cloning -- that the pope isn’t playing tricks with reality, and anyway recent visitors to Rome say there’s speculation the pope may no longer be the guy in the driver’s seat either but perhaps more sinister forces are issuing papal bulls and stuff, it’s hard to be sure once you concede that reality is already all bent out of shape.

(Note to our self: fertile ground for infallibility here; so obscure that even if we’re wrong we’ll never get caught.)

* * *

“Your Sic Eminence,” an anonymous letter begins, “we in our household voted for you over Dave Barry to send this material to.” (No matter what comes next, it can’t get any better.)

The “material” was in part a news clip: “About 20 self-proclaimed witches, from at least two Kitsap County covens, attended the monthly meeting of the Interfaith Alliance of Kitsap County. The witches were invited, along with a rabbi and three Christian pastors, to discuss ‘Is Halloween a religious holiday?’ ”

The story doesn’t mention whether the rabbi and pastors were also self-proclaimed.

* * *

The same anonymous household goes further: “Will Sic consider taking the name of Nemo I when the white smoke appears after the next conclave?” (This, as everyone knows, is a reference to Sic’s recent red hat.)

Sic wishes to take this opportunity: If elected, we will serve.

We prefer the simple Nemo to Nemo I, which presupposes an eventual Nemo II, which we think is a long shot.

* * *

But let’s, for a minute, not talk about our self. The limo story goes to show the pope remains, when all is said and done, an ordinary man. After years of popemobiles and pomp, of course he wants to drive like hell down some U.S. highway in a big consumer-happy limousine.

Now observe him as he wakes up some morning in the papal apartment and thinks to himself: not another day of pomp and pressing the flesh and signing silly documents for those curial monsignori. So he says to an important monsignor: “I need a break. You be the pope until further notice.”

* * *

The observant reader may be saying no monsignor over there looks like the pope. This is to overlook the aforementioned relativity, quarks and workings of the Holy Spirit. Reality doesn’t run in a straight line.

And furthermore, one can only imagine what the pope hears through his hearing aid. Someone should do a dissertation on that.

* * *

These true stories came to Sic via modern technology:

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft it sank -- proving once and for all you can’t have your kayak and heat it, too.

Two boll weevils grew up in South Carolina. One went to Hollywood and became famous, while the other stayed behind in a cotton field and never amounted to much. The second, naturally, became known as the lesser of two weevils.

A three-legged dog walks into a saloon in the Old West. He shuffles up to the bar and announces: “I’m looking for the man who shot my paw.”

Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused his dentist’s Novocain during root canal work? He wanted to transcend dental medication.

* * *

This is a very busy time for God, who is always credited with winning key football games late in the season. An L.A. Times article by Robert Sheer cites quarterback Randall Cunningham: “Why would God have me sit out last year, bring me back to be in the playoffs and then win a playoff game? That just doesn’t happen. It’s awesome.”

Losing quarterbacks, by contrast, are so depressed after a big loss that they forget to blame God.

Says Green Bay’s Ross Verba, who is a league leader in fights: “I play the way I play and I think the Lord honors that. If Jesus played left tackle for the Green Bay Packers, he’d want to go out and do the best he could, for sure.”

And Coach “Iron” Mike Ditka, once mean and profane and winning with Chicago but now converted and meek and losing with, yes, the New Orleans Saints: “Strong spiritual beliefs are essential to get through life, but that don’t mean we’re not going to try to kick the other guy’s ass.”

Concludes Sheer: “So much for turning the other cheek.”

National Catholic Reporter, January 23, 1998