Everyone Loves the Pope


My lover became the Pope. It was the twenty-tens and the Catholic Church wanted to rebrand with Newport cigarettes and Hermes chiseled calves. My lover raised his hand and the Conclave blew the smooth, menthol smoke.

My lover, the Pope, is filled with humility. He wants a poor church, the poorest church. He gives oversized grayish shade sweatshirts to the needy, says, Kid, you look like Jonah being swallowed by that whale. The people kiss his feet. The Cardinals fill the bathtub.

My lover, the Pope, so informal, he asks that you just call him P. Casual P sleeps in the guesthouse, P like you or like me.

The Pope, my lover, with his simple vestments void of ornamentation. It was a very hard choice for him to refuse the traditional papal mozetta cape and to choose silver instead of gold jewelry to wear. You should be more honored. You should turn your television all the way up and hear the broadcastings say, No frills!

My lover, the Pope, loves a thick thigh. P, the first Pope-y gentlemen to wash the foot of a woman. He received a letter yesterday from a young, male Catholic, fifteen years old. Is it feminist to ask a girl to take off her shirt and show me her chest? My lover, the Pope, looked at me and said, I believe in the sharing economy. Now every Catholic is a feminist.

The Pope, my lover, knocked me up. I told P I wanted an abortion. He said something like grave sin and although my body was my body, it was actually my lover, the Pope’s body. He sent me to a pro-life march in Rome carrying a sign that said, “From the Moment of Conception” and now I am eight months pregnant, my nipples amulets for the Catholic agenda.

The father of my child, the Pope, loves the environment. He believes it should be respected profoundly. He even issued an encyclical that calls for meticulous care for our ecosystem and sustainable development. P, so hip, he has seen the future of the trees. I have seen the future of my vagina.

I asked the Pope, the father of my child, if the world would ordain women. We’re having a baby girl, I said, and wouldn’t it be special if the daughter of the Pope could be a female Cardinal? He said, No, that door is closed. I said, Okay, P, but what about at least a female priest? P told me to have our baby girl rent her body to Uber when she grew up.

I asked the Pope, the father of my child, why he was the only one allowed to break his celibacy. He said, Discipline; he said Tradition. P grabbed a microphone, went out on his balcony and said, Any Priest that cannot adhere to celibacy should leave the ministry. He came back inside, put on his mitre, and jumped in our bed.

I told the Pope, the father of my child, that after our little girl was born we had to start using contraception. He laughed and said something like, Sexual morality. I think I heard a growl in P’s voice when he said, Destruction of the family. I blathered, a madwoman, and buried all of my birth control pills in the dirt outside. P found out and excavated the dirt where the pills were buried. I asked him, But why! He said, The free distribution of contraceptives will not grow from trees!

As I went into contractions, I told the Pope, the father of my child, that I had been with other women in my life. He said, Nuclear family; he said, mother and father. P, so hip, I said, can you try to understand when a woman begs another woman to enter her? I tried so hard, as I was going into labor, to get P to come around on same-sex marriage. I even said he could watch me with another woman. He said he wouldn’t look at a disfigurement of God’s plan for creation.

After I gave birth to a baby girl whose father is the Pope, I told P that I had had a sister who was now my brother. He said, Terrible! Fairy tales are foul and they consecrate the ground. He said, Ideological colonizing; he said wealthy people. P told me to remember this is a poor church, the poorest church. P told me to climb the winding steps to suck off the nuts of God. I said, My brother is a fucking sanctuary. I said, My brother is the wade in the sea.

The Pope, the father of my baby girl, hired an amazing PR Person. The same PR Person who represents Kim Kardashian. Revolutionary that P is. I was puking from post-partum but at least we had a popemobile snapchat filter. I asked P to stay inside for the day and help me with our baby girl but P—and rightfully so—had to go out onto the streets and pose for selfies with adoring fans. When P came back that night I said, P, I am anxious and I can’t eat. He said, I hit over twelve million followers on Twitter!

The father of my baby girl, social media ace, the Pope, told me to start calling him Mark Zuckerberg. He said he had done for the Catholic Church what Zuckerberg did for the Internet. I’ve revolutionized the institution through the power of my celebrity! Mark, the Pope, the father of my baby girl, said. I said, I will call you Mark even though you do look more like your predecessor Pope to me.

The Pope, the father of my baby girl, Mark, became angry at me for telling him he looked like his predecessor Pope. I cried, I thought you believed in free speech! P, I mean Mark, so good with rhetoric, told me to heed the warning that free speech must end where criticism of religion begins. I said, When we make love I laud your mother for excising the skin around your cock! He told me not to vomit out of the same mouth I eat with.

I suggested to Mark, the Pope, the father of my baby girl, P that he follow through with requests to immediately remove any suspected child abusers from within the clergy. Mark told me I was just depressed and I’d been watching too many movies. I said, We have a baby girl! Should I use empathy to help you see? Kim Kardashian’s and Mark’s, the Pope’s, PR person crafted a careful statement and handed it to me. It said, The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility. No one else has done more. Yet the Church and the poor Pope are the only ones to have been attacked. I read it and desired to caress an uncut cock; I wanted anything sacred.

The Pope, Mark, P, the father of my baby girl said secularism was the devil as he uploaded a close-up picture of his face to Instagram. Yes, I think I am having a devil experience. I walked into the homes with lamb’s blood on the door. In my last life, I was a cicada. In my last life, the Pope, Mark, P, the father of my baby girl, was a human.

I took my baby girl to the doctor. Turns out, she has celiac disease. I asked Mark, P, the Pope, and the father of my baby girl if he would consider a Eucharist that was gluten-free. I said, Don’t you want our baby girl to eat? He said our baby girl would have to suffer and pray to blister on the back of Jesus’s heel.

As I was breastfeeding my baby girl today, P, the Pope, Mark, P, the father of my baby girl, said a big TV network was going to make a television show about him. “The Chill Pope,” it would be called.

The father of my baby girl, P, the Pope, Mark, told me he was going to move to the United States, run for president. He said he would sleep in people’s homes on his campaign, eat their food, play with their children. I spelt out loud the word M-O-T-H-E-R.

The Pope, Mark, the father of my baby girl, P, taught me zero about myself. He taught me zero about our daughter. I lie in silence holding my baby girl while Mark, the father of my baby girl, P, the Pope, rides around the country in his modest Fiat. I am comforted that we will both be dust. And to dust we shall not return.


Rumpus original art by Briana Finegan.

Julianne Neely is a Truman Capote Fellow at the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Her work can be found in McSweeney's, Hobart, Pacifica Literary Review, and more. Follow her on Twitter: @juleneely. More from this author →