I’m not a Roman Catholic, so it’s really none of my business who will be chosen as the new Pope in the next week or two. But I can’t resist mentioning that there are three things I hope the new papacy will bring:
1. An effort to promote the Latin language. I’m a Latin teacher, among other things, and among the major institutions of the world the Roman church is the likeliest to do something to drum up interest in the language. So I’m hoping that the cardinals will choose a leader who will support such an initiative.
2. Make Insight more widely available. Between 1960 and 1983, a Paulist priest named Ellwood Kieser led a group that produced an anthology of 30-minute morality plays that were distributed to television stations and shown in Catholic schools around the USA. This series, titled Insight, reminds many viewers of The Twilight Zone; indeed, Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling himself wrote a couple of episodes of Insight. Like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek, Insight deals with serious moral issues from a distinctly 1960s perspective. To the extent that the show offers answers, therefore, they are dated; but that’s part of the charm. The questions are still there, and by the time we figure out how the show might look different if it were done now we’re wrestling with them.
The Roman church owns the copyright to Insight, but has never made any of them available on DVD, Blu-Ray, or any streaming video format. They did issue some VHS tapes with a handful of the 250 episodes back in the 1980s, but even those are hard to find. Most of the episodes are available on kinescope in UCLA’s Film and Television Archive, so if you’re in Los Angeles you can go have a look. And a few episodes have, no doubt illegally, been uploaded to YouTube. Paulist Productions is currently raising money to make Insight available again, but that effort doesn’t seem to be making much headway. It needs a push from someone in a prominent position. So that’s the second thing I hope for from the new pontificate: Put Insight online!
3. There is one important thing we might realistically hope the next pope will do: have a funny name. Sure, calling Pope Joseph Ratzinger “Papa Ratzi” might be good for a chuckle, but the cardinals can do better. I was bitterly disappointed in 2005 when they passed up the opportunity to promote Giacomo Cardinal Biffi, archbishop of Bologna, to the papacy. Not only is he named Biffi of Bologna, but he had spoken out against vegetarianism. I suppose he could have taken the name Pope Carnivorus I. Now Cardinal Biffi is too old. But don’t despair; the bookmakers’ favorite is the Archbishop of Milan, Angelo Cardinal Scola (also spelled Sicola,) who would become Pope Sicola. Pope Sicola hits the spot!
I mentioned these three points to Mrs Acilius the other day. When I summed them up by saying “So, when the cardinals call and ask for my advice, that’s what I’ll say,” she laughed. Maybe she doesn’t think they’ll call? I don’t know.