Is The Pope a Rock Star?

I recently saw a banner hanging on a nearby hospital which said “Our Nurses Are Rock Stars!” I took a moment to imagine a soul-deadening cycle: the people who thought of this idea, formatted it on a PC and sent it to China, where the banner was printed in a factory and shipped to San Pedro. From there it road-tripped to a warehouse in New Jersey. Meanwhile, a hospital administrator ordered the banner from an industrial gew-gaws catalog, a cardboard box arrived, maintenance guys hung it up, and, lastly, the banner found its final resting spot in a dumpster.

The use of “rock star” in this case is “here’s a public tribute of questionable taste to people who are overworked and seen as mostly female “caregivers” and thus not really taken seriously.”

Someone recently told me I’m a rock star and I just blinked in response. It was meant as something like “I like your spirit!” Trust me: I am nothing at all like a rock star. I am wearing a bathrobe and slippers and it’s 9:45 pm and I have a tasteful vase of flowers on my desk. I bought them for myself, OK? I’m drinking a Zevia. Woo?

Which brings us to the Great White Rock Star of our Times. You know who I’m talkin’ bout: Pope Francis I. The Holy Spirit recently made headlines when zie descended upon the conclave and sent a holy whoosh of “Bergoglio” through the room. Soon after (the Vatican’s astonishing PR campaign seemed to kick off immediately or perhaps slightly before that, leading me to wonder if the Ghost also touched down with a crack rebranding team), as soundbites and magazine covers accrued, the phrase “rock star” showed up, too. Apparently the last “rock star” pope was John Paul II, and now we’re in the ascendancy of a new one. “Rock star” in this case means vast appeal, charisma, crowds/ability to connect one-on-one, and, let’s face it, fans. Francis has fan pages that the Vatican had to sternly speak out against, using the word “trolls” and YELLING IN ALL CAPS about checking authorized Vatican news source since people have, apparently, taken premature reports of Vatican III seriously.

Let’s think about language for a sec. To me, the epitome of “rock star” is Led Zeppelin, hereafter “Zep.” Not just Robert Plant, but the whole of them. Don’t come back at me with other possibilities—I’m not going to argue. Let’s just compare Rock Star to Rock Star and see how it all adds up.



The chart doesn’t lie. Although there are some commonalities between the parties, Zep is definitely more the “rock star” than the Pope. However, the Pope trumps Zep for sheer numbers, reach, and history. The biggest reason why the Pope is not a rock star is His lack of actual rocking. And the reason why Zep is not the Pope is the lack of God, although its concerts were frequently called transcendent experiences. Conclusion: Page must resurrect Bonham then renounce Satan and all his evil says, write Rock Mass, conduct said Mass with Pope. Until that point I do not wish to hear the Pope being called a “rock star” ever again. Frankly, it cheapens both parties.

Mary Valle lives in Baltimore and is the author of Cancer Doesn't Give a Shit About Your Stupid Attitude: Reflections on Cancer and Catholicism. She blogs on KtB as The Communicant. For more Mary, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.