Disclaimer: None of the people mentioned below are real people, and none of the events described ever happened, blah blah blah.
As cardinals in Rome make final preparations for electing a new pope, the American progressive organization MoveOn.org has taken the unprecedented step of registering several hundred people in the Detroit metropolitan area to vote in the papal conclave.
Chip Stefano, director of grassroots activism for MoveOn.org, explained the move by drawing comparisons to the civil rights era. “Back then it was about race. This time it’s about me being mad at rules and the Catholic Church because they are mean about sex. So this is about equality maybe…yeah, and it’s about giving a vote and a voice to everyone, not just old Italian guys.”
Stefano was undeterred by the fact that none of the people he had registered to vote in the conclave would actually be able to participate in electing the new pope. “That doesn’t matter really, does it? This is about raising awareness, and more funds for MoveOn.org. We can’t turn tail and run just because these people will never actually have any role in the election, at all, ever.”
One of the new “electors” is Martha McGee, a retired school teacher and long time choir member at her church, Sweet Lord Evangelical Church of Alleluia in downtown Detroit. Though not a Catholic, she voiced her excitement at being registered to vote in the conclave, although she did not seem clear on the details of her role. “They didn’t really explain that, you know, how I’m supposed to get into this conclave thing,” she said. “They just told me to sign on the line and give them the $20, and they gave me this little registration card that says I’m allowed to vote for the pope. I’m excited – and proud too. First one in my family to be allowed to vote for the pope.”
Another MoveOn.org volunteer, Nancy Fuller, was explaining to a newly registered group of electors that with this new privilege, they have a responsibility not to the Catholic Church or to God, but to the values of toleration, diversity, gay marriage, openness, green energy, climate change, any change, whey protein smoothies, and Barack Obama.
“This is a privilege, not a right,” explained Fuller. “No, wait – it’s a right…and it’s time to show the Catholic hierarchy that they aren’t the ones in charge of the…hierarchy, or, um, the rest of us either. It’s time to take a stand for values and…change…so get out there and vote!” Fuller’s comments were met mostly with enthusiastic approval among the new electors.
However, as the MoveOn.org volunteers climbed into an orange Honda Element to leave, the electric mood dissipated. Several new electors shared confused looks and milled around on the sidewalk, and several comments were made about needing to get home to start dinner.
Before they left, Stefano and Fuller gave one more rallying cry to the dwindling crowd. “You are strong! Be strong! And diverse! This is just the beginning…we won’t rest until women, gays, Jews, and Muslims everywhere have a right to vote for the pope they want! We are church!”