“Sell it, sell it all, sell everything.”
“But, your Holiness, the Sistine Chapel is the Vatican. They are inextricable.”
“You just told me we can no longer afford them, so they’re gone, sell them, and that should keep the church afloat a few more months.”
Bishop Boccoloso adjusted his collar. “Your Holiness, forgive me, but the church is sunk without the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel has been the symbol of Church pristine and authority for over 700 years. If we were to sell it, we would be selling away the power of the Church itself, Your Holiness.”
“You’re a good man, Bishop Boccoloso, but you need to understand that the Church’s strength is in its faith, in our hearts and minds, not in any building,” the Pope lay his gentle hand on the Bishop’s right shoulder. “And in its charity, and if we are to be able to support our various charities, we are going to have to raise some serious capital immediately, and our best hope is the Sistine Chapel. I have to admit that I don’t know very much about art, other than I like some of it, but I do know that I read the other day that a Michelangelo piece sold for over 100,000,000 dollars and isn’t the Sistine Chapel absolutely filled up with the stuff?”
“Yes, Your Holiness, Michelangelo was the artist commissioned by Pope, Innocent the Ironic, yes, his work is all over the walls, the ceiling…”
“Right, so that 100,000,000 was just for one measly painting, and we’re rotten with the stuff, so, start the bidding at a billion dollars for the roof alone.”
“I’m afraid, Your Holiness that we really cannot do that.”
“Why not? We’re sitting on a gold mine, it’s time to cash in,” the Pope stopped in the Vatican garden, bent low to sniff a yellow orchid.
“Your Holiness, please permit this insubordination, but I really cannot, in all good consciousness, let you sell off the Sistine Chapel. It has stood as our beacon of beauty, on its walls are the very best images ever created in the holy spirit of Almighty God, and the tourists love it and are the only ones keeping us in business, if we were to sell it, we would be killing our tourist trade forever, and then whatever money we got from the sale would run out and then we would be out of business, Your Holiness.”
The Pope stood slowly. He was roughly the same height as the Bishop. The Pope in his white robes and white cap, the Bishop dressed in a blood red cape, the orchids all yellow, the sky a baby blue. The Pope spoke, “Bishop Boccoloso, please listen to me. I am the Pope. I embody the Church, not anything made out of bricks and mortar, no piece of art ever created has ever been worth even a single Pope. And I am now the Pope, and I know what is best for the Church, and what is best is selling everything we don’t need, including all art, artifacts, nicknacks, paddywhacks, whatever we can make some serious lira on, because, our message is precisely the opposite of the doctrine you’re professing. We are not about materialism in any way, we are about love, charity, forgiveness, sympathy, truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. So, get on the horn, hock as much of this as you can, and I suggest going the way of an auction, or even a bingo might work. Could you imagine the world’s richest men and women in a room to bingo their way to a collection of Michelangelos? That would be funny, but I’ll leave it to the Bishop to come up with whatever he thinks is proper.” The two men stood staring at each other. The air tensed like a taunt bow. “I would think the sooner the better on that, Bishop, wouldn’t you? If we’ve only got to the end of the month to make payment, than I suggest we get to selling as much as we can sell as soon as possible. I’ll be in my room, call me when you’ve arranged a date for the auction. I think it would be good for me to be either the MC or I could even be auctioned off myself, or we could auction a Pope-for-the-day kind of deal, whatever it takes to raise the money we so desperately need to get to the children in India and Pakistan and even right here on the streets of Rome. So, Bishop, you are dismissed to get to work, and so am I,” said the Pope, turning from Bishop Boccoloso, to walk down the garden path, beneath the arch, through the court yard, up three flights to his room over looking the Renaissance of the Christian empire.