I'd nail popedom

THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS

Apostolic Palace

Vatican City State 00120

Dear Your Graces,

I am led to believe a vacancy is about to arise in your esteemed organisation and I put myself forward for consideration for the position of pope for the 21st century.

My credentials are extensive. I have read The Da Vinci Code. So I'm fully aware of the lunatic nature of albino monk assassins and the dangers of carrying antimatter in the papal helicopter (or was that Demons and Angels?). And I've seen all the Godfather films, which, as you know, involve influential Catholics.

On a personal level, I was baptised at St Kevin's Parish Church, went to the parish school and attended so many funerals by the age of 11 that the smell of incense terrifies me as I think I must be dead. In grade 2, I studied the pictorial Book of Martyrs. The graphic pictures included St Sebastian at the stake stuck with arrows and spurting blood.

To be honest, it put me off the career path of martyr. I think I'm more suited to pope.

The gold jewellery, the yards of silk, the sweet slippers, the adorable capes - along with 1.5 million followers on Twitter. Celebrities would die for that PR.

Being a married female with adult children may be a hurdle, but I'm squeaky clean. No image problems. You often update the rules. Once, eating a meat pie on Friday sent you to hell. Now it just gives you indigestion.

I wouldn't be the first female pope. Some say Pope Joan did a good job until you lot stoned her to death. Fast-tracking me to Pope could rebalance 2000 years of male domination.

As Her Holiness, I'd assume the name Pope Maria, taken from The Sound of Music. As a virgin with seven children, Maria is an ideal role model.

My modernisation program would involve rewriting the 10 Commandments ("Thou shalt not kill - this includes you, America"), making St Peter's Basilica more homely (a few beanbags should do the trick), admitting fallibility (church numbers are way down - something's wrong!) and inviting women to be priests to stop the priesthood turning into an exclusive club of celibate, frock-wearing geriatrics.

My attendance at mass has been iffy. When I last fronted a mass and saw the communion wafers and wine, I thought, "A little camembert would be nice."

Obviously, I need a grace upgrade. But I do know Christ's teachings. Jesus never said "go and grab the best real estate and build monuments to the glory of architecture using cheap labour".

He never said "argue among yourselves over the wording of the Bible, so you splinter into fractious and violent sects" - although "transubstantiation" is a big word. But it's not in the Bible.

Christ never commanded the Crusades, the Inquisition or the Irish squabbles. So we can only assume there have been leadership problems for about, say, 2000 years.

Mostly, however, I want to produce a kinder, gentler, more humble and less judgmental leadership, with less pomp and ceremony and more care for the poor, the sick and the neglected. Something much closer to Christ's teachings. Something, I think, more like the Salvos.

And I'd be the first Pope to whip it up with the trombone.

Yours faithfully, KC ■

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