The warlock unlocked
McLuhanist cant, Father. But you’ll be glad to know the Council has just finished deciding which parts of Chardin’s theories arecompatible with Catholic doctrine.”
    “Which means Your Holiness has finally talked them into it!” Father Vidicon gusted out a huge sigh of relief. “At last!”
    “Yes, I can’t help thinking how nice it must have been to be Pope in, say, 1890,” His Holiness agreed,
    “when the Holy See had a bit more authority and a bit less need of persuasion.” He heaved a sigh of his own, and clasped his hands on the desktop. “And it’s come just in time. Reverend Sun is speaking to the General Assembly Monday morning—and you’ll never guess what his topic will be.”
    “How the Church is a millstone around the neck of every nation in the world.” Father Vidicon nodded grimly. “Priests who don’t pass on their genes, Catholics not attempting birth control and thereby contributing to overpopulation, Church lands withheld from taxation—it’s become a rather familiar bit of rhetoric.”
    “Indeed it has; most of his followers can recite it chapter and verse. But this time, my sources assure me he intends to go quite a bit farther—to ask the Assembly for a recommendation for all U.N. member nations to adopt legislation making all these ‘abuses’ illegal.”
    Father Vidicon’s breath hissed in. “And—with so large a percentage of the electorate in every country being Sunnite…”
    “It amounts to virtual outlawing of the Roman Catholic Church. Yes.” His Holiness nodded. “And I need hardly remind you, Father, that the current majority in the Italian government are Sunnite Communists.”
    Father Vidicon shuddered. “They’ll begin by annexing theVatican !” He had a sudden nightmarish vision Page 36
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    of a Sunnite prayer meeting in the Sistine Chapel.
    “We’ll all be looking for new lodgings,” the Pope said drily. “So you’ll understand, Father, that it’s rather important that I tell the faithful of the whole world before then, about the Council’s recent action.”
    “Your Holiness will speak on television!” Father Vidicon cried. “But that’s wonderful! You’ll be…”
    “My blushes, Father Vidicon. I’m well aware that you consider me to have an inborn affinity for the video medium.”
    “The charisma of John Paul II, with the appeal of John the XXIII!” Father Vidicon asserted. “But what a waste, that you’ll not appear in the studio!”
    “I’m not fond of viewing myself as the chief drawing-card for a sideshow,” His Holiness said sardonically. “Still, I’m afraid it’s become necessary. The Curia has spoken with Eurovision, Afrovision, PanAsiavision, PanAmerivision, and even Intervision. They’re all, even the Communists, willing to carry us for fifteen minutes…”
    “Cardinal Beluga is a genius of diplomacy,” Father Vidicon murmured.
    “Yes, and all the nations are worried about the growth of Sun’s church within their borders, with all that it implies of large portions of their citizenry taking orders fromSingapore . Under the circumstances, we’ve definitely become the lesser of two evils, in their eyes.”
    “I suppose that’s a compliment,” Father Vidicon said doubtfully.
    “Let’s think of it that way, shall we? The bottleneck, of course, was the American commercial networks; they’re only willing to carry me early Sunday morning.”
    “Yes; they only worry about religion when it begins to affect sales,” Father Vidicon said thoughtfully. “So I take it Your Holiness will appear about two p.m.?”
    “Which is early morning inChicago , yes. Other countries have agreed to record the speech, and replay it at a more suitable hour. It’ll go by satellite, of course…”
    “As long as we pay for it.”
    “Naturally. And if there’s any failure of transmission at our end, the networks are notliable to give us postponed

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