The debate of the century: jesus christ vs. the pope
as he enters the Vatican hall where the debate was held.
RACHEL: Attention, pay close attention, listeners. We’ve been advised that at last the interview we have been requesting for many days now is finally confirmed. We are making a direct link at this moment with our colleagues at Vatican Radio and Television, which will be the main transmitter of this historic event!
ANNOUNCER: The debate of the century! Today at twelve noon exactly none less than his Holiness the Pope and Jesus Christ himself will meet face to face and hold a discussion. Some journalists have reported that Christ has returned to earth after two thousand years.
ANNOUNCER: The debate will take place by videoconference. His Holiness the Pope did not agree to go to Jerusalem because of the climate of insecurity that prevails in the Middle East. Jesus Christ said that he has never been to Rome and, besides, he does not have a visa for Italy, so he prefer to speak from his native land. We thank Emisoras Latinas for providing the contact with him.
RACHEL: Well, at least they gave us some credit!
ANNOUNCER: Our satellite signal can be picked up by millions of receivers all around the planet. Giant screens have been set up in the major cities so that the debate can be seen on all the continents, especially in the Christian countries.
JESUS: Rachel, stay here with me. All this apparatus makes me nervous.
RACHEL: Okay, don’t worry. I’ll tell you when they put us on the air and when you have to speak.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, in a few moments will begin the must unexpected encounter in all of history. In Jerusalem is Jesus Christ, and in Rome his Holiness, the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. The represented and the representative, face to face.
JESUS: And what are this fellow and I going to talk about, Rachel?
RACHEL: It’s an open agenda. According to certain leaks I’ve received, the Pope wants to ask you about abortion, condoms, homosexuals, … topics you didn’t treat clearly in the gospels.
ANNOUNCER: At the present time His Holiness the Pope is making his entrance into the Sistine Chapel, decked out in a splendid gold-braided chasuble. On his head he is wearing the triple crown that symbolizes his authority. He is carrying a staff, also made of solid gold.
JESUS: That man is my representative, Rachel?
RACHEL: Well, yes, he says he’s your vicar on this earth.
ANNOUNCER: The Pope is sitting down on the throne. Above him is the renowned fresco of Michelangelo, which presents Jesus Christ in the Final Judgment, separating the just from the sinners. But on this occasion we have Jesus Christ, live and direct, in a still unidentified location in Jerusalem. In a few moments the moderator of the debate will begin the discussion.
MODERATOR: I remind both of you that you will take turns in presenting your ideas, limiting each answer to three minutes. I believe we are ready to start. The one who’ll begin the discussion, for reasons of seniority, will be Jesus Christ.
RACHEL: Now you can speak, Jesus. You can say or ask whatever you want. You have three minutes.
JESUS: I don’t think I’ll need that much time. I … I only want to ask one question. You say that you represent me. Why do you dress in gold then, and put on a crown, and wear a costume like the Roman emperor’s? The emperor thought he was god. Who do you think you are?
MODERATOR: Ahem, … the speaker still has two and a half minutes left.
RACHEL: You can keep speaking, Jesus.
JESUS: Hear me now. If you want to be my disciple, go, sell what you have, those jewels, that palace – sell it all and give it to the poor. And then you will be able to speak in my name. I feel sorry for you, blind man leading other blind people. I feel sorry for you who shut the door of the Kingdom of God – you neither enter yourself nor allow those who fight for justice to enter!
MODERATOR: Ahem, … now we give His Holiness the Pope a chance to respond..
ANNOUNCER: One moment, please…. The signal we are receiving from the Vatican is confused … the Supreme Pontiff has stood up and is leaving. … We don’t know exactly what is happening. He’s leaving the Sistine Chapel, … even here we could hear the door slamming. We ask pardon of our kind audience and … and we terminate this transmission.
ANNOUNCER: Another God is Possible. Exclusive interviews with Jesus Christ in his second coming to Earth. A production of María and José Ignacio López Vigil, with the support of the Syd Forum and Christian Aid.
*More information about this polemical topic…*
The scene of the debate
The Sistine Chapel is one of the most famous artistic treasures of the Vatican. It was built between 1471 and 1484 during the papacy of Sixtus IV, from whom it gets its name. It is the hall where the conclaves for electing the popes and held and other official ceremonies take place, such as the coronation of popes. The frescos of Michelangelo, among them that of the Final Judgment, give the hall a special value. It was natural for the Pope to choose this place for his debate with Jesus of Nazareth.
The characters, the conflict and the outcome
What would happen in a debate between the Pope and Jesus of Nazareth? Would Jesus recognize the Roman Pontiff as the representative of his movement? What would he think of the ostentation of the papacy and the luxury which surrounds the office? Wouldn’t he be surprised to see the Pope dressed with so many attributes of royalty and power? Surely Jesus would identify the Vatican pomp with that which he knew surrounded the Roman emperors of his time. Surely he would recognize in the papal vestments some of the ornaments of the high priests who condemned him to death. Such excess of wealth and spectacle no doubt would shock Jesus, and given his passionate radicality, he would repeat one of his most emphatic messages: we must choose between God and money, share our wealth with the poor, and renounce the arrogance of thinking ourselves superior to others.
What would happen with the Pontiff in such a case? Would the Pope recognize in the Galilean peasant the Christ of his dogmas? Would he respect him and listen to him? Would he believe that it was really Jesus of Nazareth scolding and criticizing him? To be sure, anyone who thought himself infallible in questions of Christian faith, who never debated with anyone but simply gave orders and “pontificated”, who had so much authority, and who lived surrounded by so many symbols of powers, would not respond at all to the criticism and would leave the hall in a huff.