Here's an edifying satire from the pen of Gabrielle Cluzel, writing at Boulevard Voltaire:
Ever since the Pope announced his departure, television and radio have been trying out a very entertaining little exercise: the man-in-the-street interview entitled "have your own conclave". Since, in fine, the decision will be made behind closed doors by an elitist college of mitered old fogies, it is normal to open up a space where the average Joe, Catholic or not (probably not), can express his highly interesting opinion on this matter.
Look at me. If they had asked me my opinion, as I left the supermarket, on the appointment of some grand mufti or grand rabbi, I would have no doubt had some really fabulously exciting things to say, worthy of the nightly news, before a France clinging to my every word, considering that these are topics on which I have great expertise.
What came out of all that? Let's sketch a brief overview: first of all, the new Pope will have to be young, oh yes, that is very important. And athletic: John-Paul II was a little, and that was good. He must arouse sympathy, you know, be warm. Above all, he must be modern. M-o-d-e-r-n! Now there I must stop you because there's work to be done. At this point, the simplest thing would almost be to get a big trash bag, and plop! In go all the dogmas, the two thousand-year-old catechism, then make a few trips back and forth to the garbage dump.
Now, let's be a little serious. If he could just shut his mouth about that story of Mary's virginity, he would gain a lot of credibility. Moreover, he must be nice, really really nice with women, and also with homosexuals (which is saying that he has a special interest in being gentle as a lamb with lesbians). He will have to make amends urbi et orbi for contraception, (advocating a religion of love, but protected and hygienic love, as any responsible Pope should do).
In addition, a strong signal of modernity would be to pluck him from someplace other than the eternal fish pond of cardinals of Old Europe. The ideal would be - hey! to choose a black guy. It would be a first. But come on, admit it, we wouldn't mind a bit if he were French. It would be as if Miss France became Miss World, or if the French soccer team reached the World Cup. That's what real chauvinism is.
OK, let me sum up: young, athletic, nice, warm, modern, black and French…
And the winner is… Yannick Noah. Habemus papam.
One reader also suggests wryly that he should not be Catholic at all, but Cathodic. Another says that perhaps he should celebrate ramadan and wear the burka, and possibly be married to a handsome young man with a medically procreated child. While still another says he should be a woman approved of by Caroline Fourest.
Read about 80-year-old Cardinal Francis Arinze, of Nigeria, who they say is a leading contender, though his age may be against him (note: the article contains a few typos). While an African may be a devout servant of the Church, and an effective leader, such a decision could have unforeseen and unexpected repercussions on the cultural life of the Catholic Church. A topic to be discussed more fully, should he be elected...