NEWS that the Pope is going to stand down has created a veritable stampede of applications for the post.
Up until now being Pope was literally a dead end job with incumbents staying in the position until they died.
But Benedict XVI’s resignation, the first Pope to do so for 600 years, has sparked keen interest among the unemployed.
It didn’t take long for a job card to go up in the Vatican dole office. It reads
WANTED: Ambitious person with knowledge of religion. Must have copy of bible.
Bound to attract a few applicants isn’t it, but the key thing here is not who applies but what they can now expect if they are lucky enough to get the job.
Resignation has opened the floodgates on a more modern approach to the papacy and with modern times comes a modern remuneration.
The new Pope will be able to drive a much harder salary bargain although even modern employment law requirements may be unable to save him from having to work on Sundays.
On the other hand, he will still have the whip hand when it comes to his contract which is bound to include tax deductions for all the robes he has to take down to that little laundrette on the Via delle Fomaci.
Then there’s all the wine he gets through. Being able to do a discreet deal with the European mountain of surplus wine could be a nice little earner with Pope’s Pinot and Vatican Vin looking like sure fire over the counter winners at the St Peter’s off-licence.
And if Popes can now resign in their 80s then why not in their 60s while there’s still time to enjoy life a bit?
His contract could stipulate a golden handshake and a luxurious bullet-proof villa on Capri where he can relax in his twilight years, happily available for a few after dinner or last supper speeches.
The possibilities are endless with proper negotiation and you can bet your bottom Euro that the Vatican is not short of a few legal eagles who know how to make a pontiff’s pay prosper.
The only thing that may limit a modern Pope’s free time is one billion Roman Catholics, a frustrating requirement of the job and one which, if he spent a second in prayer on each of them, would take him about 30 years before he could say “Amen” and that’s without food, sleep, toilet breaks and the occasional mass.
So, all things considered, this is actually a job which requires commitment above self, so when you see smoke coming out of that little chimney above the conclave of cardinals you might spare a thought for whoever they choose and offer up a prayer that the job is not too hard on him.