The Right to Life (Pt 2)
On the morning of his audience Christophe brought together the various pieces of his gun, each made out of hardened plastic and each made to look like an innocuous, every day item: a cigarette lighter, a pen, a ring and so on. Christophe scattered the pieces amongst his possessions and person and then prayed with an intensity that could have only emanated from the Holy Spirit.
Christophe passed through Vatican metal detectors with little problem. The fact that he had been given an audience under these circumstances meant that his background had been checked extensively and, as expected, he was found to be a high-ranking, high-donating member of Opus Dei. He was ushered in and guided by a staff priest who walked him through the marvelous marble corridors, past sculptures, tapestries and frescos created by some of history's greatest artists...how he wish he had time to examine many of these in detail! Extending the courtesy of smalltalk, the staff priest accompanying him spoke: "The Holy Father receives very few visitors these days. He must consider your work very important." Christophe hid his suprise at the comment and merely replied, "God willing, it is very important."
Eventually he reached the Holy Father's chambers and his guide left him at the large double doorways. Inside was something looking like an altar: it had a stool for kneeling placed in front of a rosewood conical horn and an old fashioned capsule-shaped microphone. Beyond was a large wooden door to the Holy Father's inner chamber flanked by two discreetly dressed though obviously armed guards.
Stepping into the room he was joined by another priest in black robes who motioned him to the stool. For a moment he stood looking at the microphone and horn. And then, emanating from the horn was the Holy Father's old, tired and benevolent voice: "Draw near to the microphone, my son."
Discomfitted, Christophe quickly kneeled and muttered, "Bless me Father", and he could hear the blessing: "...Espiritu Sancto...", which gave him a small measure of courage. After a quick prayer he began, "Father, I must admit that I am greatly troubled these days for the Church." "Yes son? What is the problem as you see it?"
This was the Holy Father! How silly it seemed all of a sudden to go before him with a personal issue or complaint. But nevertheless, he had been granted the audience so the Holy Father must somehow consider it of importance as well. "Father, I don't know how to say this, I feel so inadequate."
"Don't worry my son. I am here to hear you."
"Thank you, Father." A moments hesitation, and then: "But Father, you recently said that the sacraments are mere symbols. Does this not violate the doctrine of transubstatiation?"
For a moment the cone seemed to emanate silence. Was the Holy Father insulted, or merely considering the issue? And then, in careful measured tones, "Yes son, it would appear to violate the Church's teaching on transubstatiation. Does this upset you?"
Christophe didn't fully understand the question and for a moment allowed his voice to raise a bit: "Well...Yes! Yes, Father it contradicts what we know and what the church has taught for so long."
Again, a long pause. Christophe wished he could see the Holy Father's face and try to assess what he was thinking, or what his mood was. Christophe quietly felt for the cigarette lighter/gun handle.
And then, "Go on, my son, what else bothers you?"
"The ressurrection, Father. You have indicated that the resurrection of our Lord was not of His flesh but of an 'Astral Body'...this completely overthrows the teaching of the church."
Again, for a moment silence emanated from the rosewood cone. And then came the Holy Father's reassuring voice: "Why does this bother you, my son?"
Christophe was flabbergasted: "Because this is a Gnostic teaching father! Without the bodily ressurrection of our Lord the Gospel is merely another philosophy, its powerless...meaningless. This overthrows the central tenet of the church, and without any thought or debate!"
No pause this time. The Holy Father responded promptly: "Yes, my Son, it would appear to do that."
More silence. Christophe didn't understand: The Holy Father was confirming everything, denying nothing, but giving no reasons.
Christophe found the pen/gun barrel and snapped it into place.
And then, "So, my Son. These new teachings upset you. So...what would you do?"
Was the Holy Father reading his mind? For some reason, Christophe felt he could speak plainly: "What would I do, Father? What would I do? I would stop it if I could." Christophe snapped in the trigger with a barely audible click...a quick glance at the gaurds indicated that they had not heard its sound.
The Horn seemed to vibrate with the slow, aged and benevolent sound of His Holiness's response: "So. You are a learned man. You know what the basic foundations of the church and its teachings are. And now you see that the head of the Holy Church is undermining its very existence and all that we have believed in. And you would seek to stop this. You would seek to stop me. Is this true, my son?"
For some reason, Christophe felt no reason to attempt to lie to the Holy Father. The Holy Father seemed to radiate understanding, like he was an old, dear friend. This was not what Chrisophe expected. He replied:
"Yes, Father. This is true."
A long pause. And then, still calm and benevolent, the Holy Father spoke:
"Do as you have planned in your heart, my son. Go with God." And then, a blessing in Latin, followed by a small burst of noise from the horn, indicating that the line had been closed.
Christophe was confused: The audience was over. Had the Holy Father read his mind? What was he saying? Did the Holy Father realize that he had just commanded Christophe to kill him?
Christophe reached for his rosary and plucked several beads off, discretely loading them into his gun between his legs. Christophe then bowed his head, crossed himself, and then rose.
Firing off three quick shots he dropped both gaurds with hopefully non-fatal wounds. He heard a rush of feet behind him and then ducked to the right, swirling and catching one of the attendants in the shoulder, who yelped and then rolled away from Christophe across the floor. The other two attendants ran out, shouting for help.
Christophe moved to the large doorway and went through. Inside was another gaurd, standing next to the Holy Father who was in bed and, apparently, asleep. The gaurd held a gun on Christophe who, for a moment, did not know what to do. And then, the Gaurd motioned with his gun for Christophe to approach the Pontiff.
Christophe approached, and looked down at the Holy Father. Outside the window he could see Saint Peter's sqaure...sunlight was streaming in the window past billowing gauzy curtains.