The new Pope Francis,
aka Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio,
opted to ride a bus
with fellow cardinals
to the Vatican’s inner city,
shunning the sleek limousine
befitting his stature.
He is a simple man,
his admirers, plain folks
& world leaders enthuse.
He shrugs off routine
that would stray from the Jesuistic call.
But Estela de la Cuerva,
“whose mother confounded
the grandmothers
of the Plaza de Mayo”
is not at all convinced:
she remembers darkly
how His Holiness
from Argentina “testified
that he didn’t know
about the stolen babies”;
his lack of support
for two slum priests
that “ultimately delivered them
to the death squads…”
More, he has refused
to be implicated
in the trials “involving
torture and murder
in the feared Navy Mechanics
O How he preferred the safe silence
of a solitude –
his sister fears
for his job, the immense
loneliness of it –
that would turn a blind eye
to a murderous time?
But mothers whose children
were wrenched out of their arms
by the dictator’s henchmen,
would they fairly understand?
Perhaps only this way,
he could survive,
unlike the other prelates
who stepped out of line
& “ended up dead.”
Did he only reprise
Peter’s act
by the crowing
of the cock?
Was he a “coward”?
A “master at ambiguity?”
Yes, says Estela dela Cuerva.
He probably feared
the Communists
more than Jorge Videla’s junta.
[Would he have ranked
Hugo Chavez a notch
lower than an insect?]
Will the Church
turn a new leaf?
But there’s the media’s honeymoon
that will allow him
space & time
before the avalanche
of interpellations.

The faithful
widely celebrated
when white smoke
billowed forth
from the roof of Sistine Chapel
& bells joyfully rang
over St. Peter Square.
There is a new Pope
who is cause for orgiastic
Only the hopeful
would dare prophesize
the Church could withstand
the tempest of centuries,
a new day has dawned
& billions wouldn’t stray
from their faith.
O What century is this?
What manner of faith
still grips the multitude
who has invested in life
when death surrounds
heaven’s outpost!
What language should erupt
over the universe
that Christ’s surrogate
has arrived…
There will be, of course,
a clutch
of apostates
who would claim salvation
is only personal,
not theatrical,
& the road to plenitude
is committed service for others.
Who chose who, after all?
Fellow mortals,
never archangels,
who wore vestments
bleached white
of its human blood?
It couldn’t be the spirit
of Christian Federico von Wernich,
the police chaplain
“who’s now serving a life sentence
for torture and kidnapping.”
It couldn’t be his voice
that whispered into conclave’s
the Pope is God’s beloved
with whom He is most pleased!

So the Pope has raised
the alarum against
the culture of death –
sexual radicalism,
liberation theology,
even Communism.
Pope Benedict
aka Joseph Ratzinger,
who flirted with Hitler
in his youth,
would find abonimable.
What is there to believe now?
Ideology is outside,
Zizek points out,
& so the secular
would find it cool
to have the Pope psychoanalyzed:
Yes, Christianity
must return to its roots,
but can the Church
turn back the clock?
It was the Pharisees
& Roman centurions
that raised the hackles of
religious heart;
now it is the plague of diseases,
colonial tribes
& terrorists
who would avenge
their Allah’s memorial grief.
But the Pope is only beholden
to what his world permits –
he can’t shift paradigm
& allow what is perceived
to be demonic…
Should we keep our fingers
crossed that there
be a change in
his mental habit?
O How we turn idiots
at the call of the ceremoniously blest!

What more can you ask
of him?
He cooks his own meal,
commutes to his diocese
on a bus,
jettisons his driver
to stay alone in his apartment.
He mingles with the crowd
& refuses the tiara
to disavow
monarchial domain.
He could have indulged himself
like Filipino bishops
who would seek subsidy
from the state
& fancy SUVs
to visit distant places,
build a mansion
with a swimming pool
for a comfortable retreat…
O Such simplicity
is truly beatific?
Is this sacral schizophrenia
because he fulminates
in his baritone
against the “demonic moments”
of liberation theologies,
unnatural unions
even justified abortions
that roil the medieval belief?
So does his ally
Joseph Ratzinger who also loathes
the communists…
Together, they must do battle
with the modern heretics.
Like Canute, they must stop
the onrushing waves of satanists!
But Nazi generals
love to hear Beethoven & Mozart
while gas chambers
suffocated the incarcerated;
an elegant lady would cry
over dogs & cats
but coldly lock up
slum dwellers
turned robbers/thieves!
How do you profile a man?
Appearances deceive, everyone is a puzzle.
Is Hugo Chavez a saint or an insect?
Go slow, go slow…
Never so quick to judgment,
on the Most Holy.
He who wears a white cassock
& drink from the holy chalice
may be a charlatan,
or a saint given to authentic
public service.

They’re grabbing
like hot pizzas
the broadsheets in Rome
for his full-page photograph
to serve as memento
of his rule.
Even medals/pendants
to be transformed
into amulets
to stave off the Devil
& carry on the Chruch’s mission.
Constructing his person
is a  holy endeavor –
commemorative stamps,
signatures & cards
emblazoned with his official seal,
sermons & quotes
to signify
a historic occasion
& invite as well performers
of worldly miracle,
the handiwork
for saints that is
a matter of course.
O How they transform
everything so banal, so petty
to affirm an ideology
for the Pope from Latin
as holy, beatific
while they pray to God
at the balcony
to whom they must submit.
A century hence,
the devotees would fight
over the relic of bones
of this one-lung guy
proclaimed by earth-bound
as emissary
from on high.

Almost on the heels
of the Vatican conclave
was China’s plenum
for Xi Jimping to take over
as president & head
of the Communist Party –
a formality expected
by the majority.
But no crowd stood vigil
outside the Great Hall
of the People
for the investiture
of bureaucracy’s top dog
was old, old theatre
of the tedious.
A fresh start for the leader?
Xi Jimping bats
to spread its tentacles
over Asia;
the Vatican hopes to harvest
for the empire more acres of souls.

“We are all lemmings,”
the drunkard quips.
But it is early in the morning
to be laconic.
He would rather
smell the steaming coffee
to met the sunbright day:
the radio has blared:
“the savior cometh.”
The café bum slobbers on:
pick up anybody from the crowd,
even a well-meaning scoundrel
who appeals to the eye,
push him through the wringer
of an initiation rite,
& you can, by stroke of luck,
package him off,
even as a clean-shaven Christ!
You’re kidding, he remonstrates.
People are not insane.
They’re not rodents
who drive en masse
into the sea & drown…
The cynic just smiles
as if stupefied
by the predictability
of this strange faith
that leads millions
toward the precipice.

The Hadron Collider,
“a 27-kilometer tunnel
beneath the Swiss-French
border” has produced
an energy appoximating
that of the Big Bang,
recreating the so-called
“God Particle,”
as theorized by
physicist Peter Higgs
who claimed that mass
can materialize from nothing.
Briefly, from zero
to something
is virtually the phenomenon
of God
that has mankind puzzled.
Now, who is responsible
for the Pope
who must mediate
for something beyond the human
It is the matrix
of all miracles
we long for to ease mortal pain
& sorrow?
How it took billions of years
for the subatomic particle
to metastasize & become
a universe,
but only a few days
to proclaim a doppelganger?
How can we pray for enlightenment
when the cosmos
cannot be transparent with itself?
We can only theorize,
theorize, theorize
the metaphysics of existence,
the Pope’s spell bound
by his ascetic flair.

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