Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he’ll be a free man by the end of the month. There are one billion Catholics who are asking what this means for the Church, but I beg the question is there life after 62 years in the deepest chambers of the Catholic Church?
Let’s start with some superficialities. He’ll be losing all those lovely garments and dramatic hats. There are excellent designers in Rome but he could just as easily get his make-over at J. Crew. Now that he no longer needs to tweet his every thought about the abomination of contraception, he can leisurely shop online. Of course, wearing jeans for the first time since the early 1950′s might need some advisement. I just can’t see him in bootcut or skinny.
And then there’s the fact that there will be an 85-year old virgin on the loose, hanging out in his private Italian castle, a definite chic trap. Now it may be that his vow of chastity is still as pertinent as ever, but let’s be honest, many of the Vatican’s previous numero unos have been more human than holy when it came to matters of the flesh. Sure, Popes were not always expected to be celibate, but even when they were allowed to marry (sometime in the Middle Ages this changed), they appeared to be having a lot more fun than the rest of the folks: there were gays, there were large numbers of kids born from adultery, there was incest and there was a whole lot of syphilis going around.
So as the day of Saint Valentine approaches, let’s cut his Holiness some slack and suggest that he take the day off (no-one really does their job in the fortnight before they leave) and refresh his senses with the sight of some Italian lovelies. Boys, girls, whatever. No need to worry about the publicity, just pop on some bundhosen and Bavarian hat and blend in with the German tourists in your front yard.
And keep in mind that being single again isn’t the same as it was after the War. You’d be wise to keep a few of those contraband condoms in your bedside drawer, just in case… Good luck charting the waters: more on that in Having Sex in Your 80′s.