Dear Vatican, I Would Like To Be Pope, Love Laurie Penny
To: the Head of Recruitment, Vatican City
I’ve become aware of a vacancy in your organisation, and in these straitened times I thought I’d get ahead of the game in my application for the role of Pontifex.
I understand that the job of God’s Representative on Earth is likely to be a challenging and demanding one. It requires careful wardrobe management, judicious hand-waving, showmanship and the ability to spend a lot of time smiling politely around some very strange people without getting cramp in your facial muscles. As a queer woman of Jewish descent I might not be the obvious choice to spread the Lord’s message to millions of Catholics worldwide, but just give me a chance and I’m sure I can transubstantiate with the best of them.
The fact that I don’t believe in God might be considered an impediment. However, lack of personal faith in the existence of a supreme being has never stopped world leaders from, for example, waging Holy War in His name. Indeed, some might consider the basic principles of compassion and charity for all men and women an obstacle to the vital duties of discouraging condom use, opposing women’s right to choose and providing cod-spiritual justification for the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Not being a Christian, all I have to stop me spreading dogmatic misogyny and homophobia in the name of morality is my own personal sense of what’s right and wrong, and we all know how that goes, don’t we?
I admit that I have no previous experience in promoting life-threatening medical misinformation to millions. I do, however, have GCSE Latin, a collection of ridiculous hats and a talent for getting on with old ladies. Other qualifications: I love babies, and I’m happy to kiss any number of them, as long as they’re not colicky. I’m great at hand-waving - in fact, I can actually vogue, a skill I picked up in Trannyshack in Soho.
The previous holder of the position got an early start in the vital disciplines of vicious, arbitrary prejudice, ritualised shuffling and far-out workplace fashion. While I have never been in the Hitler Youth, I was a member of the Woodcraft Folk, also known as “the militant wing of the co-op”, during which time I learned how to make spaghetti on a camp stove and was savaged by a badger. I also once drew stigmata on my hands and face in felt-tip to freak-out my Catholic classmates - face it, I’m essentially perfect for the job. If selected, I would re-institute the tradition of the Papal Succubus, a practice that has sadly died out since the days of Pope Sylvester.
As Pope, I would work hard to expand the brand-recognition of the Vatican, which has struggled to maintain its grip on the global market in quasi-ecstatic hogwash in the 21st century. I already spend most of my time on Twitter and Facebook, in addition to which I actually know how to accessorise a white onesie.
As the philosopher Will Smith commented in the contemporary spiritual manual Men In Black, the difference between me and the other guy is that I make this look good. Of course, there’s no need to do away with the secrecy, in-fighting and conspiracy-mongering, an aspect of the role for which my several years of experience on the British left have prepared me amply.
I understand that you’re likely to have a lot of interest in this position. If my application is unsuccessful I plan to try out for a job as the next Doctor Who, a role in which the prospect of a female incumbent has proved just as rabidly unpopular.