In the first episode of The Pope on Trial entitled, The Fight to Save Hell, the pope has promoted his church’s ‘heavenly experience’ app to compete with others in the pursuit of the soul of man in a claimed after-life. He has used images of an imagined hell to make a more odious comparison to his endorsed product. Hell becomes such a good seller that the failing global finances of the church are reversed.
Ethical correctness demands the sanitizing of images of hell, and later, those of heaven viewed discriminatory, offensive or demeaning. The blandness of the remaining occasions disillusionment. The pope is sued by his aggrieved faithful for false, deceptive and misleading conduct whilst conducting a business of religion. They contend that he knew, or ought to have known that both heaven and hell could not, and do not exist. The court makes an interim order declaring that hell could never have existed in a metaphysical world of an ethical god: its concept of fear and guilt causing trauma in the impressionable leading to radicalization of belief and divisions in society.
In this second episode, The Fight to Believe, Pierre Bonneval, instructed by Cardinal Tarso, has the unenviable task of convincing the court that the pope is entitled to have his faithful believe in the existence of a metaphysical domain of an ethical god, notwithstanding that his own self-reasoning quantum qubit computer has declared that if hell does not exist, its dual in binary opposition, cannot exist *. He seeks permission to argue the Pope’s defence of heaven with the benefit of the passions — those affecting emotions of art and music. However, the Court must first be persuaded of the ambivalence of language and the written word to provide meaning.
Outside the courtroom James is enjoying a heavenly experience of his own making. He appears to have convinced Rebecca, the girl he has left behind in Sydney, and Héloïse, the girl he has taken up with in Paris, that reason permits him to conduct an intimate relationship with both without offending either.
Christophe, attending the trial in Paris, sees a parallel in his grandson’s male chauvinism with that of the church’s patriarchal attitude to women; in turn, redolent of its reciprocating denial of Christ’s sexuality and that duress imposed upon the psyche of humanity by its founding theology of original sin.
Counsel for the pope startles the court when he deconstructs works of surrealistic art, along with elements of composition of a Bach canon, suggesting that one’s unconscious can be sublimated to move from one hierarchal level of reality to an apogee of the sublime enabling one’s will to action beyond reason. It also appears consistent with that step into virtual reality enabling James to enjoy a heavenly experience.
Pope’s counsel struggles to balance transparency with credibility in circumstances where accepted gospel texts present as partly unethical and his client cannot be seen by his curia or his church faithful to be the instrument of change, lest he be accused of heresy. The pope’s spiritual opponents want him to fail, but those having a vested interest in the business of religion have other ideas.
As an elated Rebecca informs an apprehensive James that her musical career may shortly find her in Paris, the Chief Justice obligates the pope, who is denying the logic of the dichotomy of opposites, to demonstrate that his church now acknowledges that for Christ to be both truly God and truly man, he should be man affected by the weakness of the human condition.
Mystery and intrigue envelop the lives of the protagonists both inside and outside the courtroom as church theology and dogma unravel in tandem with the deconstruction in metaphor of the surrealistic and metaphysical art that follows in the concluding episode, Part 3, The Pope on Trial – A Free Hand Offered, to be published shortly.
* Readers may wish to read the Preface to Part 2