In probably the most serious crisis to hit the Catholic Church in its nearly two-thousand-year history, Pope ABC has abdicated only 21 days after his Election and just nine days after his Solemn Inauguration. The news broke last night shortly after reports emerged that the DEF newspaper group was planning to publish allegations that, as a young priest in his thirties, he was guilty of the multiple sexual abuse of young people and transpersons of several sexes and varied genders.
The abdication takes effect in two weeks. It is thought that this elapse of time is designed to give ABC the opportunity to relocate in seclusion away from the Vatican while still having Sovereign Immunity to protect him from arrest. His departure from Fiumicino airport by private jet late yesterday evening has been connected with a flurry of unusual transactions in the Vatican Bank ... ... ...
In unrelated news, it is reported that the previous pope, ABC's predecessor pope Francis, having recognised a retired reporter lurking at the back of an elderly airliner, forced him to take part in an off-the-cuff interview concerning ... etc.etc..
Perhaps the details of such a scenario are not quite as improbable today as they might have seemed a couple of generations ago. Popes are (by convention rather than by strict law) elected from among the body of Cardinals, and there have been unfortunate cases among members of the Sacred College in recent years. McCarrick ... O'Brian ... rumours involving the name of another dead British Cardinal ... quite apart from reports about disreputable goings-on involving, if not directly implicating, curial officials of various ranks. And: how thoroughly is each papabile Cardinal vetted before the final ballot and the catasterising white smoke? At all?
Yes ... the practicalities. I know. But one way of circumventing this problem would be the careful vetting of all Cardinals before their final admission to the Sacred College. I don't just mean psychometric tests at Manchester; I have in mind searching investigations by professional operators with a track record of uncovering nastinesses which were buried decades earlier.
Corrupt Cardinals and unworthy Popes may have been less of a menace to the Church in past centuries. But the advent of the Global Village with its instant mass communications, combined with the ultra-hyped cult of the godlike 'Holy Father' who is always right because he is reputed to be, daily, guided by the Holy Spirit, make the dangers of a proven criminal pope all the more terrible to contemplate.
Rather than just carrying on as before, fingers-crossed behind her back, I think our indefectible Holy Mother the Church should take steps now to protect herself against future catastrophes just waiting to happen.