Top 10 potential popes
Sure, we could make this into a fluffy piece full of idiots like Nicolas Cage and Mel Gibson’s dad – but that would be too easy, wouldn’t it? Drawing on our extensive knowledge of cinema, Catholicism and magic, we’ve scoured the Hollywood archives for ten characters whose experience, skills and faith make them perfect candidates for the role of Supreme Pontiff…
#10 – Father Jack Hackett (Ireland)
A controversial choice since he’s already a Catholic priest and we all know they can’t be trusted, Craggy Island’s Father Jack may still win over the cardinal-electors through his combination of relentless alcoholism, passion for the female form and willingness to sit in a chair all day decomposing. Faced with the world’s general assumption that the Catholic clergy is now entirely staffed by wannabe leather queens whose capricious God forbids them from just moving to Brighton and letting nature take its course, a Bishop of Rome who’s quite so outspokenly on the side of the hetero angels might be just what the Church needs.
Pros: Already ordained
#9 – Imhotep (Egypt)
Pundits believe that this conclave might be the first of the modern age to elect a Pope from Africa or Latin America, two areas in which Catholicism is actually growing. And who could more effortlessly command the affections of the Land of the Nile than Imhotep, high priest of Seti I and invincible master of the Ten Plagues of Egypt? He’s a dab hand at chanting, he’d definitely reverse the rules on ecclesiastical marriage if it meant he got to shack up with his old flame Ankh-su-Namun, and he’d be immune to the traditional Papal curse of ending up looking like a corpse in a dressing gown… because he’s already undead.
Pros: Experienced religious authority figure
Cons: 1300+ years older than Jesus
#8 – John Constantine (America)
An exorcist with extensive first-hand experience of fighting the forces of evil, John Constantine has a number of friends in high places – not least the angel Gabriel, who must have a bit of weight when it comes to this sort of thing. Nifty gadgets like the blessed shotgun are bound to come in handy during ecumenical disputes (take THAT, Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church!), and thanks to some nifty deal-making with the Lords of Hell Constantine is now certified cancer-free and largely immune to harm. A clean bill of health would be a distinct advantage in a role whose previous incumbents have averaged only a decade before dying in office – Constantine’s in it for the long run.
Pros: Unlikely to be starstruck when dealing with God
Cons: Tattooed forearms (Lev. 19:28 – “…do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.”)
#7 – Rupert Giles (England)
Who among us hasn’t thought that a crisp English accent would make the Papacy that much more accessible, modern… and delightfully reminiscent of the days of Empire? Fresh from years coaching Sunnydale’s resident Slayer Buffy Summers, Giles could bring the immense knowledge gleaned from his career as a Watcher to the Holy See – he’s already fluent in Latin, Ancient Greek and other handy languages, and he knows his way around a demonology grimoire like nobody else. Plus ‘Rupert’ is pretty much already a Papal name, which saves on stationery alterations. Look after the pennies, as they say, and the massive corruption crippling the Vatican Bank will look after itself.
Pros: Both scholarly and athletic, like John Paul II
Cons: Pretty much useless without a teenage girl backing him up
#6 – The Mother Abbess (Austria)
Perhaps this is the most unrealistic choice of all, but after the distinctly Nazi-flavoured Benedict XVI it would be nice to see the German-speaking world get some more positive representation in the Vatican. If the cardinals can see their way past the Mother Abbess’ gender (turns out the chair with the hole in it is a myth, so maybe all she needs is a really good fake moustache and a minimiser bra), her experience of a) resisting fascist oppression and b) singing lovely songs could win her votes with a) liberal Catholic proponents of the predominantly Latin American movement Liberation Theology and b) closet gay priests. No sense in ignoring your audience, is there?
Pros: Excellent navigation skills (climb mountains, ford streams, &c)
#5 – René d’Aramis de Vannes (France)
A pious young noble who turns to the sword after a misunderstanding with a lady blights his career in the Church, Aramis embodies the forgiveness and fortitude which the next Pope will need to lead the Church through the dark and troubled times ahead. His experience fighting in the Franco-Dutch war is ample preparation for the cut and thrust of Vatican politics, while his aristocratic bearing would satisfy traditionalists longing for a return to the refined papacies of Pontiffs such as Leo XIII and Pius XII. He’s even had a few dealings with Cardinal Richelieu, one of the most powerful men ever to wear a red hat, and if The Man in the Iron Mask is to be believed then he’s already Superior General of the Jesuits. The purists’ choice.
Pros: Talent for swordsmanship
Cons: Weakness for adultery
#4 – Joseph ‘Joey’ Tribbiani, Jr (America)
Another ordained minister from a solidly Catholic background, Joey Tribbiani is one of the more liberal candidates on our list. His background in fornication presents no problem – consider the example of St Augustine, who prayed “Lord, make me chaste… but not yet” – and his experience on TV’s Days of our Lives has surely left him with the PR toolkit required to lead the Papacy into a more media-savvy age. He even obtained his licence to conduct weddings online! Those few cardinals to embrace Twitter and Facebook as valid instruments of the faith are likely to see Tribbiani as a personable (but easily influenced) figurehead; perfectly fitted to a church struggling to enter the 21st century.
Pros: Youth popularity
Cons: Rome only has so many meatballs
#3 – Aslan (Narnia)
Although he’s certainly a Christian, nobody’s exactly sure of Aslan’s denomination. Still, if Benedict XVI could establish the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham to cater for refugee Anglicans then the Vatican can certainly find room for a fellow believer – especially one passionate enough to emulate Christ’s exact example and sacrifice himself in penance for the sins of others. In some respects seen as a ‘continuity candidate’ due to his apparent immortality, Aslan is a strong contender despite the fact that no Narnian has ever before led the Catholic Church. He would also be the first gigantic lion to wear the Fisherman’s Ring, further unbalancing his support with traditional Catholics.
Pros: Literally Jesus
Cons: Literally a lion
#2 – Don Michael Corleone (America/Italy)
Polish Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian to accede to St Peter’s Throne since the Dutch Adrian VI (1522-3), and after Benedict XVI’s papacy there’s no doubt that many Catholics would welcome a return to the homegrown Popes of old. This grassroots support is one of the key factors working in Don Corleone’s favour, along with his established popularity in multicultural New York. Corleone’s family roots are, of course, in Sicily, but he’s made his mark in the New World by brutally slaughtering the heads of every Mafia family opposed to his dominance. A better grounding for the ruthless bureaucracy of the Curia could hardly be imagined.
Pros: Could make those pesky reformers an offer they can’t refuse
Cons: Likely to insist on his son inheriting the papacy
#1 – Obi-Wan Kenobi (a galaxy far, far away)
According to legend, Dominican friar Antonio Ghislieri inaugurated the tradition of white papal garments when he became Pius V and refused to relinquish his monastic habit. Hailing from a different religious order but nevertheless steeped in the traditional disciplines of meditation, diplomacy and transcending death by becoming a Force ghost, Obi-Wan Kenobi is our ultimate choice for the next Pope. His mastery of telekinesis and decades of teaching experience could usher in a new age of Jedi Catholics, and his essentially immaterial state means that not only would the Holy See save a packet in housekeeping costs, but the ethereal and intangible Pope Obi-Wan I could set a good example by being physically incapable of noncing any choirboys. Habemus Papam!
Pros: Has own robe
Cons: Probably hasn’t realised that the Pope is traditionally a Sith Lord