By William Thomas

As you probably heard Pope Benedict XVI, head of the Catholic Church is retiring to spend more time with the wife and kids.  Finally he will have time to play in all those golf matches that begin with “so the Pope, the Ayatollah and the Rabbi all tee off together.”

I don’t know what to make of the 85-year-old Benedict who left the job just after eight years but in fairness, did give two weeks notice.  I’m sure Pope Hyginus had good health habits.  I’m sure Pope Simplicius was uncomplicated.  And I’m sure Pope Sylvester got tired of Archbishop Tweety running around pointing at him and yelling:  “I tot I taw a putty tat.”  I can just see Pope Hilarious goofing around with Vatican staffers saying:  “Seriously, pull my Fisherman’s Ring finger.”

But Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Joseph Ratzinger of Germany – was a pretty poor Pope overall.  Granted he had a very tall hat to fill.  John Paul II was a great Pope – travelling the world relentlessly to embrace the poor and heal the damaged.

Politically, Pope John Paul played a key role in freeing Poland from the clutches of Soviet communism and he improved the Catholic Church’s relationship with all world religions.  Pope Benedict told Turkey they should stick with their own kind, align with the Islamic nations of the world and not join the Christian-rooted European Union.

Pope John Paul had great charisma and became a kind of pious rock star.  Pope Benedict looked like the guy in the movie, shining a lamp light in your face and saying “Vee have vays of making you talk.”

In 27 years Karol Wojtyla went on to earn the name John Paul The Great.  Over time Joseph Ratzinger will come to be known as Benedict The Not So Great.

Soon, from a short list of popular candidates from around the world, the conclave of about 200 cardinals will be cloistered in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel to make one of them the next Pope.  And it could be a Canadian!  Quebec’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a Vatican insider in charge of the world’s bishops is seen as the front-runner to become the next Holy See.  New rule:  you got to take your position more seriously than Benedict, the first Pope to resign in six centuries.  Die on the job!  Okay?

Think about that – a Canadian Pope.  A kid who grew up playing hockey soon to be the leader of 1.6 billion people who believe a man can walk on water that isn’t frozen.

Here then are the changes we will see if the College of Cardinals elect a Canadian Pope …

•At the north end of Vatican City, the Grotto of Lourdes will be converted to a curling rink.

•The archaic and drawn-out process of choosing a new Pope by committee will be replaced with a “Roll Up The Rim To Win Contest.”

•An entire congregation of cardinals, patriarchs and diocesan bishops will be called to the Vatican in order to absolve Prime Minister Stephen Harper of his sins … and even then he will remain secretive and evasive.

•The Popemobile will be refitted with snow tires, coffee cup holders and a dog hanging half way out the passenger window.

•The Vatican’s new “Enforcer of Faith” will be Father Dave Semenko.  He will spend his first four years in a chapel called “The Sin Bin.”

•The Pope’s summer residence will be outfitted with barbeques, campfires, loons and a beer fridge on the porch.

•In a sign that the Catholic Church will crack down on sinners, Silvio Berlusconi will be smitten and smoted and not in a good way.

•For informal ceremonies, the Pope’s mitre will be replaced with a Toronto’s Blue Jays cap.

•The priest who had to endure the confessions of Madonna will be fast-tracked to sainthood.

Argo director Ben Affleck will be excommunicated for “crimes against a friendly nation.”

•On the same day, in apparently unrelated incidents the Quebec Nordiques will be awarded an NHL franchise and while walking down Fifth Avenue in New York City, Gary Bettman will be turned into a (very short) pillar of salt.

•A Catholic priest preparing for communion will now have the option of red wine and Labatt’s Blue.

And finally … David Bauer and The Flying Fathers will represent the Vatican in men’s hockey at the Sochi Olympics and by God they will win the Gold!  It will forever be known as ‘The Real Miracle on Ice.’

I really hope the concave of cardinals do not elect an American Pope.  There are already way too Americans attending mass in Basilica Square and treating it more as a tourist attraction than a sacred place of worship.  Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past made by two American guys wearing ball caps and cameras around their neck on that fateful Sunday morning in St. Peter’s Square.

First Guy:  “Who’s that guy up there?”

Second Guy:  “Da Pope.”

“What’s he do?”

“Not much.  Dresses up nice.  Comes out on the balcony and waves and all these people worship him.”

“Man, how’d he get that job?”

“Easy.  All the cardinals got together and voted him in.

“You know, the Dodgers shoulda done sumpthin’ like that for Willie Mays.”

No.  No American Pope.  Let’s spread the world’s leadership wealth around a little.  The Americans have Hillary and Canadians should get the Pope.

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