There’s a mystery surrounding Pope Lenny.
That’s actually his point.
Pope Lenny, you see, is basing his papacy off the idea of Mystery, with a capital “M” since it’s a Catholic concept, of “Absence is presence”. That’s what he tells Cardinal Spenser, and Spenser thinks that’s way too vague to base a papacy on. Granted, Spenser tries later to get back on Lenny’s good side only to be, like so many others, cast aside and issued a directive to address Lenny as “Your Holiness”.
To Lenny, people who don’t understand his opening homily, well, they don’t deserve an explanation. He doesn’t want to face the press himself, so he sends Sister Mary to read a prepared statement on his behalf. That statement can be boiled down to, “If you’re too stupid to know what I meant in my homily, I am not going to waste my time explaining it to you.”
The key may be that Lenny thinks everyone should find God the way he did. Lenny found God through deprivation and suffering when his parents abandoned him at Sister Mary’s orphanage. He technically wasn’t an orphan. That’s one of the things Spenser disagrees with.
But there are some problems for Lenny, even as he seems intent to banish people to Alaska. One such Cardinal’s crime was being the Pope’s travel agent, and since Lenny doesn’t plan on traveling, well, ever, he dispatches that guy to a town of 8,000 people where it may never have warm weather.
But for all that Lenny is operating on some sort of metaphysical plain, not everyone else is. Why did Vioello get Lenny elected Pope? Lenny was a compromise between the progressive branch of the College of Cardinals who opposed the conservative Spenser, and the conservative wing that obviously favored Spenser. They believed they could control Lenny.
Man, were they ever wrong there.
Still, Vioello has a route to something for himself. One of Lenny’s few ears in the Vatican has an exploitable drinking problem Vioello can use to blackmail. That man does offer some good advice to the new Pope: Vioello is a politician first and foremost, and that should never be forgotten.
What else should not be forgotten? Lenny meets with Esther, the devout wife of one of the Swiss Guards. She believes in him. And then he passes out in the middle of their talk, where she catches him in a pure Pieta pose.
Say what you will about The Young Pope. It is truly a beautiful show to look at among its many virtues.
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