Trading Places with the Pope

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I’m not Catholic. And I have no misconceptions about The Vatican. It's not without fault. In fact, I know this truth not only from recent, highly publicized scandals but from my academic focus, which required significant study of the Catholic Church.

So I say this without illusions of glory:

If I were given the opportunity to trade places with anyone in the world for one week, I’d swap with the pope.

Here's my thinking:

  • Even if I devoted my entire life to becoming the supreme leader of the Catholic Church, I couldn’t get remotely close. I’m female. A nun’s career trajectory never leads to the papacy.

  • In any given person’s lifetime, there will be only four or so popes.

  • The Catholic elite cannot talk candidly about the Vatican and the pope. Outsiders can't know much. Even upper-echelon Catholics don’t know. It’s a mysterious, cloaked, secret world.

  • The Catholic Church is more powerful across the globe than most people can fathom. NPR recently reported that the Church owns around half of Alcala de Henares, Spain. It doesn’t pay taxes, either. And this is a drop in the bucket.

  • What does the pope have to consider each day? What are the realities and parameters in which he makes decisions? How much is on the pope’s shoulders and how much is delegated? What’s the big-picture strategy for one of the most powerful entities on the planet?

Celebrities? Legion. We’ve had numerous articles and movies and books with eyewitness accounts of their lives. Politicians? Everywhere. And they, journalists, and historians document their lives carefully for the public. Athletes? Musicians? Artists? Same.

How about you?

If you could trade places for one week with anyone, who would you choose?