Ask Mrs. Vera: Will The New Pope Stick to His Vow of Poverty?

Dear Mrs. Vera,

A bunch of us nuns were chewing the fat on a Tuesday recently and taking bets on who could give up what and, well, things got a little heated and things were said by some sisters to other sisters (honestly, I can’t even tell us apart anymore), but, anyway, a lot of rosaries were thrown in spirited emphasis, and that yielded up some bruised feelings as well as a bunch of crucifix-shaped forehead dents, so anyway, anyway, we did a convent huddle and decided that we would abide by whatever advice you give us to keep the peace. In a nutshell, which we all like to kneel on in penance, Sister Phlegmolina says the new Pope will not be able to resist the fancy digs on offer in the Vatican Hilton despite his vow of Poverty, while I maintain Francis, the talking Pope, will be spare-changing out in front of the basilica on a permanent basis. Who is right, me or Sister Ahem Ptoo?


Sister Mary Margaret Murgatroid-Sullivan

Mrs. Vera Newman at the Folsom Fair, with absolutely fabulous hairdo.

Mrs. Vera Newman,
San Francisco, California.
Photo: Randal Alan Smith, Furtographer

Dear Ann Margaret Suleman of the White Tower,

So great to hear from you, yet again, from my favorite, most contentious Convent of the Modern Catheter Church, an Order whose dedication to the proper forms of making the sign of the cross whilst flipping off the novices with raspberries, making koo-koo finger spirals at the forehead temple when they aren’t looking, and making mean eyes and shaking fists at each other when they are, is an inspiration to even the angriest of blind lepers. Those bony fingers of yours are right on the throbbing Pope-pulse and everybody can’t stop not wondering about which one it is again, especially when you can’t see the Pope-face in question from wherever you are squeezing.

It really is not easy to tell these two Popes apart, especially in the dark or when everyone forgets their hearing aid batteries and just sit around nodding sagely at each other until someone shows up with dinner (the average age of the Pontiff Crews is seventy seven years), so if the lights are out, both Popes will bruise like bananas and the new One’s soft-spoken humility sounds a lot like the old One’s hissing, so there is, in fact, an awful lot of confusion and swell geriatric humor that the British excel at so boringly even when the laugh track is irritatingly random.

The current situation is analogous to many reality shows, like the Evening News, featuring Old men with lots to hide, and The Popewives of Vatican City is expected to do quite well in the ratings, as the tensions flare whenever the Two Popes encounter each others’ entourages and one group has to back up and walk backwards down the fancy hallway until the other group can make a turn, and we can look forward to a new release of Gregorian-style chanting by the Cardinals and Bishops in attendance out-shouting each other by going “BEEEP BEEEP BEEEP” like a truck backing up to show whose power crystal is most charged up for this week’s episode.

The Poverty Pope, and the one that quit but is squatting, secretly enjoy switching places like Freaky Friday Audrey Hepburns who get to do it with Cary Grant in the end, slipping into each other’s identity by switching shoes and wearing a cheap black wig while getting up to shenanigans to make the other Pope look silly, inept or evil, but it’s all in good fun since most people don’t tune in for the plot or lack thereof these days, and both possess terrific comedic timing when doing Mr. Bean routines or the always crowd-pleasing Lucy/Harpo mirror skit. The previous, prior Pope, Tim Conway, really raised the bar on the whole Pope Improv circuit. Thank God and Urkel Preserve Us for the end to ho-hum pratfalls down Michelangelo-designed marble staircases that the world sat through for nine long seasons with Pope Trippy VI back in the 70’s.

So until the new Pope gets some endorsement deals going it looks like he’ll be living with photogenic roommates with great jobs and awkward hi-jinks, just tryin’ to make ends meet, while the uppity Hyacinth Bouquet/Scary Halloween Pope Ab Fabs it up around town and in the malls with the ghost of Joanna Lumley, while their Pope-chasing exasperated sexy secretary tries to keep the peace. Good luck with that when both Popes’ mothers arrive unannounced for an extended vacation only to reveal they have both left both Popes’ Fathers, who art not in heaven, but are actually in Tampa with those two brassy floozy waitresses.


Vera with toys and greensMrs. Vera Newman is a San Francisco absurdist character, humorist, artist, writer, community organizer, clothes horse and co-founder, with Mister Tina, of The Verasphere. She has been answering the unasked questions she receives from the lonely, empty rooms of America’s heart-shaped circulatory pump room ever since it began beating. Nestled in the politically bent bowels of the Nation since she was a young girl babysitting the very same newborn Nation, her ability to self-reflect about anyone else’s embarrassing shortcomings, inept fumblings or lousy recipes has enabled her invisible rise as a modern-day Cassandra, whatever that means. Feel free to dispose of all your worries by leaving them on her doorstep!


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