After over 1000 years the world finally has a non-European Pope. A Jesuit from Argentina who has chosen the name Francis after the patron saint of the poor. All good news then!
The Bishop of Rome is usually well travelled, though the style in which they make their journeys differs greatly from the manner in which most of us are accustomed. It might be fun however to discuss their travel habits. Do they pass on tips to cardinals that are potential pontiffs or is there even a Papal travel club? Maybe a monthly newsletter “Beyond Conclave” is produced or even a handbook “The Vatican Voyager” is possibly published annually.
Having the option to instantly change names is a pretty cool benefit of becoming the Pope. Though it’s a shame their passport photographs still probably make them appear like an extra from the “Walking Dead”. It seems however that to date they have not really embraced this exciting opportunity, adopting names like Benedict, Francis and John Paul, although being named after two of the Beatles deserves some credit. Far better to go for Pope Clint, Pope James Bond or possibly Pope Schwarzenegger, how about Pope Zaphod Beeblebrox or even Pope Buzz Lightyear?
I’ve just checked Wikipedia apparently he has to choose the name of a saint; so Pope Simon Templar it is.
Having never spotted a Papal entourage in the duty free section of Manchester airport it seems he skips the TSA any full body scanner issues. Just as well as apart from not having his zombie passport photograph inspected, seeing him tugging a bright pink wheeled suitcase around, wearing a “kiss me quick” hat and sneaking an extra carton of cigarettes through customs would slightly taint the mystique of his office.
Another benefit of flying in his own private jet is he doesn’t have to worry about getting a free upgrade from coach. I can picture him now if unsuccessful, squeezed between the family with the screaming child with the lungs of a sperm whale and a semi-drunk from Glasgow muttering an incomprehensible confession into his can of Tennents lager. Time to pull out the white silk neck pillow and insignia emblazoned headphones. Listening to the “Cardinals” on his iPhone in noise cancelling bliss seems appropriate.
It could be worse, he may be forced to travel to a destination where the only carrier is Ryanair. I’m pretty certain that the Pope doesn’t carry spare cash so when they add coin operated toilets he’ll have to initiate the passing of collection plates up the aisles to fund his visit.
He is of course spared the normal challenge of airport transfers as the “Popemobile” is always available. Useful as it would be a shame for him to miss his first public appearance in destination because a taxi driver took him on the scenic route; “honest guvnor it’s by far the quickest route, that’ll be 112 euros”.
Successive Popes appear to have great couchsurfing networks, they always find a good place to stay. I suppose when you’re head of the Catholic Church there are plenty of options, an almost limitless chain of priests, bishops, monsignors and cardinals to drop in on. I couldn’t find his profile but it probably reads something like this:
Name: Ringo, John, Paul or George well some think they should be saints.
Location: Right hand of God or the Pauline Chapel (few addresses are more exclusive)
Description: The Holy Father, Bishop of Rome, God’s representative on Earth and leader of the worldwide Catholic Church.
Testimonials: Saints and sinners, angels but not demons, apostles, epistles and the Holy Trinity but only available post mortem.
It isn’t certain whether he has a verified account but he’d still probably get a place on my floor with this profile. Of course in the honoured traditions of couchsurfing he’s still expected to return the favour. A good bottle of barolo or chianti would be the least I’d expect and all travelling couchsurfers are expected to put up their own sofa when they return home. Now that would be smoasting to end all smoasting, imagine that status update “me in the Papal apartments”.
Adventure travel doesn’t appear to be his cup of Italian Chamomile Arbe tea, there seems to be some reverse ageism going on as cardinals don’t appear to become potential candidates until after retirement age. Maybe a pontiff doesn’t come into their prime until they reach 70.
Not many seem to list their interests as BASE jumping, snowboarding, cave diving or even Gangnam style. It’s a shame as all these opportunities to travel and they never get to spend time on the piste or enjoy the après-ski for that matter. It seems appropriate that any Pope should ski Cardinal Mountain at least once during his papacy.
The Church is undoubtedly a wealthy organisation but is still keen to increase it’s revenue streams, it therefore seems amiss in not selling the Holy Father’s range of travel clothing. It’s not exactly my style but pretty sure a signature range of Gore-Tex vestments would sell well. Possibly including a Cardinal’s range too with a fleece beanie style galero. There is a ready made customer base, every Catholic will want to be decked out in the latest fashionable robes from the Vatican. I can imagine a chain of stores springing up possibly called something simple but classy like “Papal”. Though if they ever made a film about it let’s hope it’s not called “The Devil wears Papal”.
I hope this irreverent view of the travel habits of his Holy Father has provided a few smiles and hasn’t offended anybody too much. The new pontiff has a great many challenges facing him but the omens seem good that he may overcome at least a few of them. I really like the name he has chosen for himself and believe it bodes well for a new era of hope in the Vatican.