Ketchum: I always knew there was something about this pope I really liked

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Picture this:

You own a small, hole-in-the-wall kind of record store. I guess they still call them record stores, even though most of what these places sell anymore aren’t the vinyl LPs or 45 RPM records with the big hole in the middle that those of us who have attained a certain age remember.

Actually, it’s a blessing that most of us who have attained that certain age can still remember much of anything. But that’s another story. I digress.

So it’s around 7 p.m. one evening at your record store that happens to be somewhere in Rome. Maybe you’re getting ready to close up, counting the day’s receipts and hoping you made enough that day to keep the wolf from having a litter of pups on your front doorstep.

As all these thoughts come and go, the front door opens and who should walk in but the pope. Himself, his Holiness, Pope Francis. By himself, mostly, although it’s hard to imagine his security detail is far behind.

So what’s the spiritual leader of a billion or so Catholics doing wandering into your record store? Turns out he’s keeping a promise he made when you saw him at the Vatican some time ago.

At the time, you asked Francis to come and bless your store sometime when it might be convenient. And, as luck would have it, this was a convenient time. After contending with cranky conservative priests and cardinals who aren’t crazy about the direction he’s taking the church, Francis needed a getaway.

So that led him to come and bless your record store.

This all actually happened last week. The pope showed up unannounced at the store he used to frequent when he was still a priest from Argentina and later as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Turns out the pope loves his vinyl.

Pope Francis delivers Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Jan. 1, 2022. (Evandro Inetti/Zuma Press/TNS)
Pope Francis delivers Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Jan. 1, 2022. (Evandro Inetti/Zuma Press/TNS)

So do I. I always knew there was something about this pope I really liked besides the fact that he was willing to help us Lutherans mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation a few years back.

I still enjoy my vinyl LPs. Actually vinyl is making something of a comeback. The key, however, as any purist will tell you, is that what’s on the new vinyl works best if the master was an analog recording. If it was digital, it’s not the same. But this is another story as well, and again I digress. Bless me for I have sinned.

Francis used to buy souvenirs in the store for visitors before he became pope. This time around, he didn’t buy anything. But store owner Danilo Genio gave him a CD of classical music.

Too bad you blew it, Danilo. The man loves vinyl. You needed to give him a vinyl LP. You are dealing with the pontiff here, so wise up. Even when he asks, “Who am I to judge?”, he’s the pope. That’s who he is, and he’s got the right, some say the duty, to judge. That’s what popes do.

According to an Associated Press story, turns out the pope loves opera, Mozart and Wagner. He’s also partial to the tango.

I’m having trouble picturing the pontiff tangoing in his papal apartment, but then, he’s the pope, and he can do whatever he wants: blessings, excommunications, tangos. It’s part of the job description.

So, if you own a record store, keep it well stocked with vintage vinyl LPs. You never know who might walk in.

Jim Ketchum is a retired Times Herald copy editor. Contact him at jeketchum1@comcast.net.

This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: Ketchum: I always knew there was something about this pope I really liked

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