Veteran Vatican watchers were befuddled yesterday when out of St. Peter’s dome came neither black smoke nor white smoke . . . but lightning. Traditionally, black smoke has meant the assembled cardinals have not yet agreed on the next pope; white smoke means the church has a new leader.
Lightning, it turns out, means the next pope is Theresa Speyer, a no-nonsense, 12th-generation Catholic from Olive Branch, Illinois. The new pontiffa (or “La Mama”) traces her ancestry to the Diet of Worms, which, she told reporters, family archives describe as “delicious” and “loaded with protein,” as well as "putting Martin Luther in his place."
At her first press conference, Speyer said she “totally” accepts church doctrine on marriage and the priesthood. “Are you kidding," the twice-divorced leader-elect asked? "I wish I had listened to Him years ago.”
As a woman, Speyer hopes to be more inclusive than some of her predecessors, men like Innocent III whose Inquisition, she noted, rubbed certain people the wrong way. “I plan to sit down with the world’s major religious leaders and see if we can’t be nicer to each other.
“We have the most trouble with Muslims,” she continued, “so first up will be Barack Obama. I’d like to get him with Rick Santorum, who converted Governor Brownback of Kansas when they were in the Senate together.”
Asked about the Dalai Lama, who has made world peace the center of his religious teaching, Speyer demurred. “Let’s start with people who actually believe in God.”