After narrowly missing the effects of the Toronto garbage strike, successfully avoiding a Toronto heatwave, and surviving legions of Catholic fanboys and fangirls, The Pope boarded his plane early this afternoon and said farewell to Canada, most likely for the last time.
Ladies and gentlemen, His Holiness has left the country … alive.
Like many people, I had my doubts. By all accounts, The Pope is old, frail and suffering from numerous diseases of old age. It would have been no surprise to me, then, if His Holiness had met his maker during the World Youth Day festivities. It wouldn’t have taken much: a whiff of festering Toronto garbage, a 40-degrees-in-the-shade-with-the-humidex heatwave, a mosquito harbouring the West Nile Virus, or an irate Toronto-area commuter. Thankfully, however, Toronto will not be able to lay claim as the city which killed The Pope. No, that honour has been saved for some other city.
Exactly what would have happened if J.P. #2 (J.dot to his friends) had joined the choir invisible here in our fair city? Would there have been an outcry denouncing Toronto? Would we have been able to advertise the fact at our city limits? “Welcome to Toronto, the deathbed of Popes since 2002.” Would fire and brimstone rain down upon us?
And what of the poor soul nearest to the Pope when he died? Supposing he passed away shortly after shaking the hand of Canadian Prime Minister Jean ChrÃ©tien, or Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman? Would they then be accused of causing his death? Would it be like the time I turned on my friend’s lamp, only to find that it wasn’t working? “You, you killed the Pope!” “No, I didn’t.” “Yes you did. He died after you touched him and was most certainly alive seconds before. Ipso facto, you killed His Holiness.” “No, Cardinal, he’s not dead, he’s just resting. That’s His Holiness’ tendency, so I’m told. Look at the funny hat!”
On second thoughts, maybe having The Pope pass away in Toronto wouldn’t have been so bad. After all, we need a claim on something, and what better way to attract mobs of Catholic tourists every year than to see the final resting place of John Paul II. It would be like World Youth Day every day. I think I’m on to something here.
Hey, wait, John Paul, come back!