The story so far: you have issued a spicy exhortation Appassionata Erotica,
in which you and your ghost-writers put forward several controversial opinions. It is deliberately confusing,
whatever it is you're trying to say, it's certainly not what was agreed at the Synod
you held last year.
Pope John XXII - also knew a thing or two about inventing new doctrines.
Feeling unloved, you have also decided to create some new cardinals, for which the main
criterion you use is not "Is he a good Catholic?" but "Is he a yes-man?" Accordingly some very strange
people, including Cardinals Farrago, Kewpie, and
Toblerone, are now ready to become princes of the Church, as you approach the end of the
Jubilee Year of Hospitality.
However, all is not well. A few months ago, some of your most respected cardinals wrote
to you, asking whether you were still a Catholic. Apparently they had come to the conclusion
that some of the opinions stated in Appassionata Erotica, if interpreted by
a sufficiently mischievous person - say, a Jesuit - were quite possibly heretical.
So they posed a few test questions to give you a chance to clear your name.
Such questions are called "dubia", and any truly conscientious pope is expected to respond to them.
Pope St John-Paul II replies to dubia.
However, you are now in a real dilemma. Your own Jesuit training has taught you never to give
a straight answer to a straight question. At Jesuit seminary it was: "Do you renounce evil, Fr Antonio?"
"Well, I'd like to answer that question in two ways: first, by calling you names, and secondly, by
So, as a good pope, you ignore the cardinals' letter - pretend, perhaps that it was lost in the post. Anyway,
you have far more important duties as pope: there are still several groups of Catholics that
you never got round to insulting, so, as a distraction, you call young devotees of the Latin Mass "rigid",
and question the mental health of anyone who dares to ask you for clarification on any matter at all.
Meanwhile, your cronies will be describing Appassionata Erotica as "magisterial" and "part of the
depoisit of faith", even "necessary for salvation", in spite of the fact that it
is not even an encyclical like your famous Phew Wottascorcha on the environment, but merely an
apostolic exhortation loosely based on what you wish the Synod had actually agreed.
Meanwhile, your attack dogs are slavering at the mouth...
Your pet pooch, Fr Wormtongue, attacks the cardinals who wrote to you.
Now, there is a real problem here, as you need to hold a consistory, before which you would meet your cardinals.
They are getting increasingly disrespectful, and you expect embarrassing questions like "Did you get our letter, chum?"
and "Haven't you resigned yet?"
The answer is simple - cancel the pre-consistory meeting!
However, if the cardinals responsible for the dubia are really serious about upholding the Catholic
faith (sheesh! we thought that this sort of thing ended with Vatican II) then they may even go
so far as to issue a formal "act of correction". So you'd better stuff some copies of Appassionata Erotica
down the back of your cassock, Holy Father, in case someone comes round with a big stick!
Where's that naughty pope got to?
More wise advice in due course, no doubt.