An Idiot's Guide to Meeting the Pope

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When visiting His Holiness, one is encouraged to wear a dark suit and not sit on the floor.

By the time you read this, President Nicolás Maduro will have arrived at the Vatican to meet his Holiness Pope Francis.

I. Can’t. Wait!

How-oh-how will he screw this up? Let me count the ways…

Vatican protocol is serious business. The Pope is both the Head of State of the Vatican and the representative of God on Earth. So you might want to make sure you know what you’re doing before you and you “spouse” traipse up to the third-floor private library to meet him.

Which brings me to my first point. Maduro is not married to Cilia Flores. They’re living in sin. This could have been easily solved by Nicolás just leaving his companion at home and meeting the Pope on his own, on a strict I-am-the-President capacity.

But obviously Cilia’s not about to forego the sightseeing and CADIVI-spending opportunities that Rome might afford her. Rumor has it they’ve even taken to wearing wedding bands lately. And the jury is still out on whether or not she properly divorced her previous husband.

If the Pope looks the other way on this, then Madonna definitely deserves to be un-excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Just sayin’.

Secondly, Maduro comes bearing gifts. He is reported to have brought with him to Rome two paintings, one of perennially-soon-to-be-beatified Venezuelan doctor José Gregorio Hernández, and another one of His Supreme Beingship, Chávez Mesmo the First.

Now, I remember my ten commandments, and I believe it was number 1, something about “Thou shall have no other gods before me, ” so the painting miiiiight rub the Catholic Church the wrong way. Gifting His Holiness a portrait of our dead president alongside one of a church-recognized venerable figure is a not-too-subtle suggestion that Chávez himself deserves to be canonized. While gifts that presidents and prime ministers give popes are quite varied, they usually tend heavily towards old books, medals, vases and the like … not portraits of deified leaders that, let’s not forget, frequently trash-talked the Church on national television (calling Cardinals “troglodytes” and “cavemen” were particularly nice touches).

Oh, and also, might I add that Maduro’s gifted artworks are being bestowed upon the man that sleeps next to Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel? Where, I wonder, will the Vatican choose to display these newly added masterpieces? Perhaps Chávez’s likeness could be sandwiched right between Boticelli’s Temptation of Christ frescoes and Raphael’s tapestries.

A delegation of opposition representatives led by Edgar Zambrano (AD) will meet with the Pope on Tuesday. No word yet on whether or not they’ll be bringing a painting of Capriles.

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