Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Vati Can or Can't?

A few years ago, just for the heck of it, I wrote three different congregations (departments) in the Vatican asking for a job. A couple of things about their replies surprised me. First, the "slowpoke" Vatican took only two weeks to reply. The three departments said they had no openings, but still asked me if I could speak and write languages other than English (it still helps to know foreign languages, especially Italian, to work at the big show). Second, remember that the "medieval" Vatican was years ahead of similar central religious headquarters---e.g., America's National Council of Churches in Washington, the World Council of Churches in Geneva, the Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul---in installing and widely using computers. Imagine my surprise, then, when each of the three replies arrived as as aerogram, that razor-thin, see-through, feather-light, cheap paper which is simply folded into its own envelope and stamped. Moreover, the reply on each aerogram was typed on an old-fashioned MANUAL typewriter, the kind whose keys leave the imprinted words half-broken and uneven on the lines. Yet each reply was polite, apologetic, articulate, and typed and signed by a nun secretary. What is this? I asked myself. I imagined these nuns in small, cramped, dark offices opening business mail hour after hour, and producing their replies on dingy, 1950ish typewriters, while the monsignors and bishops in their large offices down the hall had access to florescent lighting and 2000ish computers. Well, at least there were, I can safely assume, no dumb blonds among the former.

-Old Gargoyle

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