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Sic, on a prophecy roll, predicts tallest pope ever

Hey, did you see, y’know, Inside NCR, last week, crowing about (are you sitting down?) poetry. With never a word that This Space has brought poetry to the great unwashed for years.

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Rome recently outlined conditions under which Catholics who do charitable deeds during the Holy Year 2000 can gain an indulgence, reducing time in Purgatory. But time has no place in Purgatory, a reader wrote, and concluded, “I hereby vote to have Sic delve into this matter.”

Here’s what Sic, rising to the challenge, finds. You’re down in Purgatory, see (for the geographically challenged, Purgatory is down three miles under Vatican City. If you’re ever visiting the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, you’ll notice an old, steep stairs going down from the scullery, with a vague Latin sign on it saying: Habe diem pulchram.

Everyone knows it’s Purgatory down there, and we’re all only one false step away from it) -- so, anyway, you’re down in Purg and then it hits you, there’s no time here, only an interminable present. In that endless now, Congressman Henry Hyde is telling everyone Purgatory is what the American people want, while Linda Tripp and (Sic’s favorite) Ken Starr interview each other for all eternity about the sounds and smells of good and evil, not to mention missed book deals up there on earth.

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And now for some of the sophomoric whatnots for which This Space is justly famous, namely, sayings by famous people and others:

“That lowdown scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death by a jackass, and I’m just the one to do it” (congressional candidate in Texas).

“The government is not doing enough about cleaning up the environment. This is a good planet” (Mr. New Jersey contestant, asked what he’d do with a million dollars).

“When I have been asked during these last weeks who caused the riots and the killing in L.A., my answer has been direct and simple: Who is to blame for the riots? The rioters are to blame. Who is to blame for the killings? The killers are to blame” (Dan Quayle).

“Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind” (Gen. William Westmoreland).

“If you let that sort of thing go on, your bread and butter will be cut right out from under your feet” (Former British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin).

“I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix.” (Dan Quayle).

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Just when Sic thought life was going swimmingly and the infallibility monkey was off our back, along comes this prophecy thing. It’s amazing how much of the future your average human can see by looking hard enough. For example, we were looking this morning and saw that the next pope will be a 6 foot 11 inch basketball player who never misses from 3-point range and (here’s the divine intervention part) minored in theology and Italian when he was a student at Georgetown before jumping to the pros after his sophomore year just in time for the recent strike (sometimes the prophecy bug provides more prophecy than is really necessary). What a papacy it will be, topped by a pointy hat, and a soupçon of swagger and everyone shouting “Slam dunk, Your Holiness.”

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Seamus Doyle E-mails to say: “Mahatma Gandhi walked barefoot everywhere, so his feet became thick and hard. A spiritual man often on hunger strike, he became thin and frail. Also, due to his diet of raw grains, he ended up with bad breath. Thus he came to be known as a super callused fragile mystic plagued with halitosis.”

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CWNews.com announces “a notorious purveyor of on-line pornography,” Seth Warshavsky, plans live coverage of John Paul’s visit to St. Louis. There is a “natural synergy” here, Warshavsky says: “Sex is what drives our business and ... the Catholic church has had a very rich sexual history and still plays a powerful role in the sex lives of its members.”

You’re right, this is not a bit funny. Sic’s primary purpose, as always, is to educate and inspire.

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Speaking of papal visits, The Cornell Review promises “a new line of Brazilian lingerie in ‘cardinal purple’ will make its debut during Pope John Paul II’s visit to Brazil.” The lingerie people mean no disrespect, they insist; it’s just that the cardinals’ colors are “sensual and sophisticated.” Only a dissident would disagree.

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Sic’s Pet of the Week is Carol Jankunas’ Kiko from Northglenn, who, out with Jankunas and her husband on a predawn walk, disappeared in a sinkhole and remained 20 feet under for seven hours until more than 25 firefighters came and rescued him (a good thing there were no fires in Northglenn).

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A letter from the Catholic Press Association to its “registered agents” (that is, we think, editors) conveys an invitation from the Ministry of Tourism of the State of Israel to “20 CPA leaders ... to participate in the Holy Land 2000 Leaders Conference in Israel, Feb. 17-23, as guests of the government of Israel.”

Whew, we said to ourself, isn’t this the darndest thing. But it gets better: Eligible editors “may invite their bishop to participate in the conference as guests of the government as well.” All expenses paid, if you can just get to that plane with “Gaza Strip” painted on the tail.

Sic has been a CPA fan ever since we won the CPA Best Column Award (the culture section), oh, years ago. We can only hope this cutting-edge journalistic gig will be followed by other invitations from, say, the Ivory Coast or Romania. Personally we’re saving ourself for Bangladesh.

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A highlight of recent CPA conventions, Sic is informed, has been an Israeli video of happy frolickers on Israel’s golden strands while Yasir Arafat darn near drowns in the muddy Palestinian waters nearby.

National Catholic Reporter, January 29, 1999