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Being Pope Was Great, But You Can’t Play Make-Believe Forever

For the past eight years, it has been my distinct pleasure to serve as head of the Roman Catholic Church. Spreading the message of the Bible around the world and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. Honestly, I had a ball. But at some point, you just have to face the facts and realize that you can’t play make-believe forever.

Hey, everyone has to grow up eventually—it’s just a part of life. And several weeks ago, I decided it was time for me to finally move on and put all this pretend, fantasy stuff behind me.

Don’t get me wrong, serving as pope was loads of fun. For starters, as pontiff you’re always treated very well, you get to live in a palace, and millions of adoring people gather to hear you tell all sorts of silly old stories about a super-powerful being and other made-up nonsense about everlasting life in paradise. It’s enjoyable, it’s not particularly difficult, and you can say whatever you want. It really is a fun gig. You basically get to come into work and act like a little kid playing pretend.

Over the past couple of years, though, I have to admit the daily routine of telling followers that a guy who’s been dead for 2,000 years legitimately loves them and wants them to be happy started to grow a little old. Seriously, how long can you really go around scaring people with stories of a spooky devil that’s out to get them? As fun as that stuff is, it’s also pretty silly, and after a while it’s like, “Okay, time to come back down to reality and stop messing around in fairy land.”

I guess I just woke up one day and realized I’m 85 years old and I’m still putting on a little costume and hat and making a fool of myself in front of thousands of people. It’s time to be a grown-up, you know? Heck, I actually told people that if they really wanted something, all they had to do was clasp their hands together and ask an invisible force for it and it would deliver.

You know, kids’ stuff like that. The kind of stuff a 5-year-old would say.

When I sit down and actually think about the things I did all the time as pope, it’s kind of embarrassing. I made people tell me all the details of the things they’ve done wrong. I moved my arms through the air and claimed that people had been blessed because of it. And get this—a couple weeks ago, I literally dipped my fingers in ashes and smeared it on people’s foreheads and told them they would live forever. How messed up is that? That’s just not what a mature, functional adult does.

All the people who follow me need to realize this, too. They can’t just live in this make-believe world forever. All the ridiculous water-dunking, adopting saints’ names, and formally devoting yourself to an unseen being—that stuff’s okay for little kids, maybe, but all the adults out there, come on, enough’s enough. Time to move up to the big kids’ table, you know?

The sad thing is that some people cling to this candyland their whole lives. John Paul II, for instance, actually believed in Easter to the very end. Christ, talk about a Peter Pan complex. The guy refused to grow up. It’s pretty pathetic, when you think about it.

And that’s why I’m stepping down. As much as I love all the silly stuff I got to do—and it definitely was a ton of fun—the time has definitely come for me to put all that religion mumbo-jumbo behind me and embrace reality like an actual grown-up.

Farewell, brothers and sisters. And God bless you—oh, whoops, sorry. Force of habit.

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