|Not Fredo Lombardo.|
"Let me begin by saying that God wants a race of thoroughbreds! He wants strong and beautiful Catholics, most perhaps humble, but some towering above the common strain even as the great cathedrals towered over medieval towns, and even our modern cities. But all fit for their purpose. Those buildings are you, Catholics!"
Lombardo's amplified voice echoed over the mass of people, who responded with cries of adulation. With a theatrically outstretched hand, the crowd grew quiet.
"But, as every common livestock breeder knows, there is only one way to achieve this improvement of our species, my brothers and sisters." Lombardo paused, his face mischievous. "I seem... I seem to have forgotten, and the wind has taken my papers."
There were roars of laughter from the crowd, who took its cues from many agents seeded throughout.
"Perhaps, perhaps, my Catholic brothers, my Catholic sisters, you might help me out?
"More children from the fit! Fewer from the unfit!" the crowd answered as one.
"Thank you! Thank you," Lombardo answered when the crowd died down. "I just wanted to hear it in the voice of the people. Yes, more children from the fit, and fewer from the unfit. And that is why the Church provides pre-nuptial genetic screening, and tests for harmful viruses. Why she screens her children to prevent the misfortune to us all of the unfit, a misfortune most of all to the unfit child itself. Oh, how terrible to see some poor child be born only to a life sentence of idiocy, mongolism, microcephaly and a thousand other conditions that we can now prevent through cautious and sensible breeding. It is the essence of mercy." Lombardo paused to let that sink in. "But, my fellow Catholics, my brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, I must preach for a moment. Can you hear me?"
"Yes!" the crowd roared back.
"In the past, the Church has taught that contraception was wrong. And in those dark days, it was. There was no science behind it. No vision. But we live in a new age, and must adapt the ancient rules. That is why his Holiness, Francis the Great --"
Lombardo was drowned out by delirious cries, almost as if the crowd could see Pope Francis the Great, up there on the platform. But at another theatrical gesture from Lombardo, they quietened.
"That is why our beloved Pope has brought the rule into the future. Do not listen to those who say this has been changed, or that abrogated. Nothing has changed. It has just been brought into the future. Contraception remains forbidden."
Even though the crowd knew the script, their breath stopped in their throats, so thoroughly were they playing their part. Or maybe they were so caught in the moment that for an instant they believed what they were hearing.
"Contraception remains forbidden," Lombardo repeated softly. "But, you know, St. Pope Paul VI, and St. Pope John Paul II both permitted nuns to use contraception. Yes, it's true. Because it was a simple case of the lesser of two evils. That is our law in this matter. If contraception is the lesser of two evils, then you may use contraception in good conscience, if your conscience approves!"
More cheers from the packed piazza.
Lombardo was silent for a moment, and the crowd also grew silent. Then he continued. "What is the lesser of two evils? The Church directs you first to your duty: produce fit children for the Church. Beyond that, the Church does not intrude upon the inner forum of your conscience. She trusts her children to use their choice wisely, putting aside self-interest. I know, and Pope Francis knows, we can count on every one of our children to make us proud with their sexual choices!"
The crowd went wild at the mention of Pope Francis. Lombardo stepped away from the microphone, turned 180 degrees on his heel, and was instantly flanked on both sides by Swiss Guard in full ceremonial uniforms, bearing halberds. As the crowd behind him burst into applause, he disappeared, a black figure into deeper blackness.
The above is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any character, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.