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Radilo

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Apostolic Palace, Tibur, Holy See
2:00 PM, a few days ago.

When His Holiness, Ioannes Iosephvs (It: Giovanni Giuseppe, So: Juan José, En: John Joseph), was first elected, it was a very big surprise indeed. Not only did he often butt heads with his predecessor, Gregorius V (Gregory V), over theology, their styles were also in diametric opposition. Gone were the designer Montecerettian or Radilan vestments, luxury cars, and lavish Papal accommodations. The first Occidentian pope was also the first post-delegationist pope, though he vehemently rejected the latter label. But as the former Archbishop of Palmira, it did sort of go with the territory.

Ironically, as much as he often bickered with the Tiburan Curia, the Italianate Cardinals who were in charge of the administrative functions of the Holy See and the wider Tiburan Chruch, they mostly agreed with him on practical administrative and theological matters... if not on pastoral or personal style. The two most powerful members of the Curia, the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin and, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formally known as the Holy Inquisitor), Cardinal ZuanGiacomo Marcato were Radilan. And they were not wanting for their fellow countrymen among the Papal administrators--as it is said, if the Italianates were over-represented among the College of Cardinals, then Radilans were over-represented in the Curia.

They sat waiting for his Holiness to arrive for dinner, 9 Italians (four Radilans, two Tiburans, an Inovan, a Montecerettian, and an Aurelian), and they were not thrilled with the developments to their near east.

"So they've reached out to us... it was a threat. Plain as day," Cardinal Parolin said, clearly distressed, "as if we have the power to quell the stirrings in their country."

"They are unsatisfied with the pound of flesh extracted a century ago," injected Cardinal Marco Tasca, the lone Inovan at the table, "How arrogant has Radila been since then?"

"Fuck off, we've been nothing but a faithful ally to them and all of the Orthodox world since the dismantling or our Thalassocracy."

"Enough," grunted ZuanGiacomo, "none of that matters. Pietro, have you reached out to the prime minster? To the other Italianate states?"

"Of course..." he sighed, "far as I see it, our best option is to offer to talk, without making promises, perhaps we can hedge our way into some understanding. Cardinal Tasca, you're an arse, but apparently both, our PMs have agreed to subtly entertaining multiple routes."

"This is dangerous."

"We don't have much of a choice. The Orthodox wanted to pin us in and they have. Counting on Italia's liberal values... notice how we are not threatening the heretics who live in our own homelands... but it's a fight for human..."

All of the Curia stood up as the Pope entered the room.

"Please, sit," he insisted," you have no obligations towards me." They sat down as he did, "you're all still to formal, I am a common shepherd, I should not be greeted as if I were a king."

"Your Holiness, you..."

"It doesn't matter, I overheard your conversation. Using democracy, or any decent thing, as a tool of oppression is a sin, in both the Catholic and Orthodox faiths. We must speak out forcefully for human dignity and human rights. Mister Secretary, am I wrong to understand that they've threated our churches and our Priests?"

"No, your Holiness, they made their point clearly."

"Buildings and wiling martyrs are one thing, but can you all imagine the human cost of all of this. This is the suggestion that they are happy to abuse their own citizens, should they be Catholic. And that is beneath a civilized nation, like one would assume the birthplace of Aristotle and Socrates would be."

"I concur, your Holiness, but we..."

"Must make do with what we have, and we must protect human rights wherever we can, I understand. Respond to this overture as you need to. I have spoken with the Captains General of Radila and Inova, and soon I will speak with the other Italianate leaders, even my friends back West. It is my sincere hope that human dignity prevails in all of this... we will see."

OOC: this RP has been discontinued.
 
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Radilo

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Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio, Tibur, Holy See
Mid-afternoon

"Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is an adorable title," ZuanGiacomo thought to himself as he watched the proceedings of the European Forum on the small TV in his office. "What this time needs is a true Holy Inquisitor," he allowed himself a mischievous grin.

He nodded to his assistant who provided him with a large piece of parchment and calligraphic quill.

THE SACRED CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
on behalf of the supreme pontiff of the
ONE, HOLY, UNIVERSAL, and APOSTOLIC Church
His Holiness
JOHN JOSEPH
Bishop of Tibur, Patriarch of the West, Sovereign of the Holy See, and Vicar of Christ
is launching an investigation into the ongoing situation in the
ARCHDIOCESE OF GONZAGA

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, it troubles the hearts of all the faithful the ongoing brutality that is currently being perpetuated against the Pannonian people. We rejoice that the European Forum is taking immediate action to mitigate the situation there. Our prayers are with the White Helmet peacekeepers and their support staff. The Holy See will aid in these and other relief efforts in anyway we are needed.

What concerns this Congregation, however, are the reports coming out of the Archdiocese of Gonzaga that suggest that members of the secular and lay clergy and their congregants have participated in the systematic abuses of innocents. This is not only morally reprehensible, it is an act of heresy. To that end, I will be launching a formal inquisition into these allegations. It should be known that this Congregation will approach this investigation with the rigor and thoroughness necessary to fully understand the situation.

I must confess that at times the Holy Church has not been as forceful as necessary to redress these sins. As a humble act of penance on the worldly church's behalf, I will personally accompany the White Helmet peacekeepers to Zara to ensure that every measure of force is brought to bear on this inquisition.

Signed and Sealed,
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
Cardinal ZuanGiacomo Marcato, SJ,
Archpriest of Santa Maria alla Domnica

ZuanGiacomo took a small piece of red wax and put it into a small wax ladle. He heated the ladle and wax over a tea candle on his desk. Once the wax was melted he poured it onto a spot at the bottom of the paper that was designated for such a purpose. Using the large, gold signet ring he wore on his left pinky finger he stamped his office's emblem into the wax.

The deed was done. The die was cast.

He signed the cross and said a silent prayer. A mischievous grin reappeared on his face as he said, "amen."
 
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Radilo

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St. Peter International Airport, Tibur, Holy See
Very early morning

Cardinal Marcato looked up at the stark white plane, illuminated by searchlights, whose tailfin bore the papal emblem. Given the nature of this mission, four fighter jets were assigned to escort him. Two from Rheinbund, who's airspace he would spend the majority of the time in, one from Radilo, and one from Inova. The two rival Italianate fighters were meant to symbolize Italian cooperation in this distressing mission. He saw the fighter pilots milling about some. He approached them, somewhat at random.

When the pilots saw him they stopped talking and stood, somewhat at attention, unsure of what to do.

"At ease, please, I wanted to thank you all for protecting me. Can we take a moment to pray, for this operation and the broader objective." The two men and two women glanced nervously at each other, before all kneeling before the old priest.

He murmured a few words in Tiburan, before starting in Zaran, "please God, protect these pilots and their care, Saint Joseph Cupertino pray for them. Amen."

"Amen," the pilots responded.

They all made the sign of the cross.

ZuanGiacomo then shook all of their hands, and then boarded the plane. He greeted the pilot and co-pilot, and made some small talk with the stewardesses. Eventually he buckled his seatbelt, as the plane taxied onto the runway. It took off without incident, just as the sun was rising.

After a few minutes the fighter jets started taking off. Since they were each much faster than the passenger jet, they would keep figure-eight patterns until they reached Gonzaga. There they would rendezvous with the Radilan detachment of White Helmets.

ZuanGiacomo looked at the window and saw the early morning sun. One of the fighter jets passed him, the pilot, clear as day, saluted him subtly, he saluted back, before she zoomed ahead.
 

Radilo

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Dante Olighieri International Airport, about 20 miles outside of Gonzaga, Csengian Occupied Pannonia (Zara)
Just after Sunrise

Entering occupied airspace, four more fighters joined the convoy, these from Csengian Air Force, though their pilots may have been from @Tarusa .

The passenger jet's landing gear deployed as it was making its final approach. As it's wheels touched the ground, the fighter jets escorting it all dispersed, returning to their home bases. It was quite a loud performance for anyone on the ground, including the landing party.

Queen Erzsébet Eleonóra Szabina, Csengia's head of state waited on the tarmac, along with Cardinal Giuseppe Lombardi, the Archbishop of Gonzaga, and several members of the Foreign affairs ministry.

Cardinal Lombardi was not looking forward to this meeting. That the Holy See was about to preform a Papal Inquisition would be stressful enough, but knowing what he knew... this one might well lead to more... temporal problems.

They had laid out the literal red carpet for Grand Inquisitor... sorry... the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal ZuanGiacomo
Marcato.

The plane, all white, bearing the emblem of the Vicar of Christ on the tailfin, taxied to the assembled party. It came to a stop and boarding stairs were attached. The first out of the plane were two elaborately dressed Papal Guards. Then, in blood-red full choir dress, out stepped the Holy Inquisitor.

With the aid of a cane, the portly, gruff old man made his way to the welcome party.

"Your Eminence, the Queen said, kneeling and kissing his ecclesiastic ring."

"Your majesty," he responded, thank you for this welcome. Archbishop," he turned to Giuseppe, "Come, we haven't much to talk about."

"Prefect," he started, "I am still at a loss as to why the Holy Father felt the need to... inconvenience you with this trip."


ZuanGiacomo smiled, "that you Archbishop, are unaware of the extensive accusations of heresy in this Province, should provide enough rational for why a Papal Inquisition is necessary."

"I am also unaware of such alleged heresies," the Queen hastily interjected.

"Your Majesty, I appreciate your warm greeting. But you should not be concerned about my coming here. I have no secular intentions. I am only here to save the souls of the faithful and expel the heretics from the one true Church."

"Perhaps we can continue this conversation over a meal and some drinks," the Queen suggested, a bit of nervousness in her voice.

ZuanGiacomo chuckled heartily, "that sounds like an excellent idea to me."

the Queen and the Archbishop exchanged a nervous glance as they smiled along.
 
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Radilo

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Dante Olighieri International Airport, about 20 miles outside of Gonzaga, Csengian Occupied Pannonia (Zara)
Just a bit more after Sunrise

As they were smiling awkwardly at each other two nuns came stumbling out of the plane. Each carrying overstuffed luggage. When they reached the welcome party, the Queen and the Archbishop looked rather perplexed.

In Tiburan, the Holy Inquisitor started speaking loudly, but not shouting at them, "girls you were supposed to leave your luggage on the plane. We'll have people to take them to were we're staying."

"Ah, I dun'ave'n trust that any'un could handle'r papers betta'th'we'cn," responded the one young nun, whose curly red hair was already popping out from under her habit.

"I'm not sure anyone would be interested in the contents our our dissertations," said the other girl, with Meridian features and dark eyes.

The Archbishop, who spoke Tuburan and the Queen, who had studied it somewhat, were taken a bit back by the two young nuns.

The Inquisitor sighed a bit then chuckled. Turning to the Queen and Archbishop, he cleared his throat and said, "this is Mastra Mhàiri Cambell from @Nieveland , and this is Mastra Maria Martinez from @Ebria . They are theology doctoral candidates at the Pontifical Gregorian University of Tibur. And they will be assisting me in my investigation here. I promise you they are both harmless. Simply engaging in research to move along their dissertations," he turned to the two young women, "girls this is her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of Csengia, and his Eminence, Archbishop of Gonzaga, Cardinal Lombardi."

The two girls bowed awkwardly, "your mag-eminenc-ty," they said, each starting with different titles.

"They're trying. Girls, you'll be taking the next car. Stay safe."

The two girls bowed.

The Queen and Archbishop, were, despite themselves a tad charmed by the two sloppy grad students.

A Rolls Royce Limo pulled up, followed by a line of smaller luxury cars.

The Queen, and the two cardinals got into the back of the limo.

As they settled in, Queen Elizabeth opened a bottle of very fine vintage wine, "would his Eminence care for a drink?"

"I'd be honored."

She poured a glass and handed it to him.

"You're abstaining, your Majesty?"

"Of course not," she said, hastily pouring herself a drink.
 
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Radilo

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Outside of Gonzaga, Csengian Occupied Pannonia (Zara), en route to the Royal residence
Early morning

"It is most excellent your Majesty, Chateaux Voulnsese 1987," the Cardinal said sipping the old red.

"88, both bumper years," she said, taking a delicate sip, "you know your wine, your Eminence."

"An expensive hobby," he grunted.

"Especially for someone who's taken a vow of poverty."

"You've made your point, your Majesty. But unlike the Protestants, we acknowledge a hierarchy of sin. Of course, enjoying good wines given by the penitent is hardly a sin. As Jesus scolded his Apostles for scolding a whore who doused Christ with perfume. And we will need to soon discuss the magnitude of heresy which when combined with human suffering is the most egregious of sins. I will, however, take another drink," he smiled.

As she refilled his glass, she smiled back, "I'm not afraid of you."

"You shouldn't be. I'm here to save souls, not interfere with politics. But don't try to come between me and my wine."

"I will be more than accommodating, your Eminence," she said, "those two girls you brought with you, what's their purpose?"

"I'm an old man, with bad eyesight and a worsening limp... they are to help me... it's preferable for you, i assume, to avoid having a while squad of my Inquisitors marching around like Star Wars characters."

"The fight between Obi-wan and Vader was cool this week," she smiled.

"Wasn't that one actress from Game of Thrones?"

"Yes, she played the leader of the Sand Snakes."

The Archbishop of Gonzaga was becoming very confused by this conversation.
 
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Radilo

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Royal residence, Gonzaga, Csengian Occupied Pannonia (Zara)
Morning

The motorcade pulled into the gates of a modest (by royal standards), palace. It was serving as the queen's temporary residence in the city, until more suitable lodging could be repaired.

"Would you and your helpers care to enjoy a late breakfast with us?" The queen asked smiling, a bit tipsy from the two glasses of wine she had, trying to keep some pace with the Inquisitor. The sun had only just risen, but he insisted it was bad luck to not finish such a fine bottle. You can't let too much air on it. He insisted.

"Breakfast sounds lovely," he said, smiling, "the girls will like staying here, I think. In the convent they have small cells. Which may be perfect for late night clandestine cuddling, but are not known to be luxurious."

That earned a raised eyebrow from the Bishop, the Queen didn't seem to react much.

The party made its way to a small dining area under a Zaran Pergola, it was a pleasant late spring morning. Archbishop Lombardi had instructed the staff to get the Inquisitor as much to drink as he asked for, as he was known to be a prodigious drinker, and they needed to slow him down as much as they could. He even had them add extra measures of booze to drinks if they could.

The surrounding gardens were well manicured, with large shaped shrubs and still blooming flowers. The morning sun shone in golden and green hues. It was a lovely little refuge in a country that had been torn apart by war.

The five of them sat at the table, the Queen dismissed her guards, at least from view. She gestured and her servants brought out two pitchers, one one filled with bloody marys the other with mimosas.

"I felt that more modern fair might be in order for us," the Queen started, "we hope to bring our newly unified country into modernity. I've hired new chefs trained in the HFE."

"That sounds marvelous," the Inquisitor said, as he poured himself a rather full glass of bloody mary, "the Holy Father isn't a fan of fine dining like Gregory was. Now that man had aristocratic tastes. Holy Father John Joseph prefers peasant food." The Archbishop and Queen laughed awkwardly. "Of course now peasant food is trendy again, you should see how many fine restaurants in Tibur serve pig trotters now."

"Well, this breakfast is going to be a bit more tame, eggs in purgatory to start--" the Queen started.

"Ah, purgatory, that reminds me of the Engellish heresies, the teach that final judgement is made right after death. Mastra Campbell is actually studying the Engellish heresies for her dissertation, aren't you Sister Mhàiri?"

"Aye, I'm. Though I pursue it from a'bit'a'different perspective. You seen the famous statue of'the Extasy'of'Saint Teresa'in'Tibur?"

"I'm a bit familiar--"

"Aye, that plays'a big role'n th'debate wether'r'not Mary, Queen of Heaven, had an orgasm during the Immaculate Conception." The Archbishop and Queen's eyes went wide, "Ya'see because if St. Teresa had an orgasm during her encounter with God, as is widely agreed, it stands t'reason that the Madonna, havin'a much more intense encounter with God, one that resulted in a pregnancy no less, that she very likely also had an orgasm or at least the potential to." The Inquisitor was trying to hide his smirk as she pressed forward at full speed. "Th'Engellish reject this, resting their case on two'of'their heresies. First is the rejection of'the transubstantiation of Christ--as they argue, falsely, that the body'o'Christ is not flesh. In so doing the seek to deny that Mary and all'o'the saits were also made'o'flesh. Mortal flesh--as the Son'o'Man. T'deny the nature'o'flesh and t'deny its needs. This is the second heresy. Christ said that t'enter the kingdom of heaven, one must feed the poor--by the least of these."


She finally paused for a moment to catch her breath. As the Archbishop opened his mouth to speak, she resumed, only a bit slower, "ya'see, this heresy is worse. True, the denial of a woman's flesh is cruel, but it's survivable. They used some mistranslated junk from the Old Testiment, t'argue that those who can't work won't be fed. In direct contradiction t'Christ's words. That was their logic when they oppressed me'country, @Nieveland . To deprive them of the necessities for life, and for their safety. It was a sin then, as it is now... and of course," her tone softening slightly, glancing over at Maria, "t'deny a woman's passion... well now... that's just foolish."

The Archbishop looked up the Inquisitor, who was no longer hiding his smirk.

"You see, the Holy Father's idea of opening up leadership positions in the holy congregations to non-priests, is a wise one. In 40 years, Mastra Mhàiri may well have my job."

The young lass was beaming, and neither the Queen, nor the Archbishop knew what to say.
 
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Radilo

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Gonzaga, Csengian Occupied Pannonia (Zara)
Morning

"I can't b'lieve what'ey'di't'it. I always want'd't'come here, but... see'n'it..."

"My parents took me here as a kid... it was a marvel. I hadn't been to Tibur yet...I..."

"Now howl the dogs of war, as we sleepwalk to hell. That which man hath wrought shall be made plain. And our laments shall be nothing, ground into dust."

The Holy Inquisitor paused, "it's not from The Inferno. Dante wrote that in a secular polemic, after the Frankish occupied Zara. The Guelph, who were allied with the Pope, of whom Dante was one, lost to the Ghibellines, who were loyal to the Emperor. Dante went into exile in Tibur, where he is now buried."

"Il Pippo's masterpiece... the first monumental dome since the Tiburan empire fell... it survived the Great War..."

"And now crumbled, a victim of errant mortar fire... though who fired the rounds, we don't know," he paused and sighed. "I want you girls to look around, talk to people, find out things, if you get harassed, your diplomatic passports will serve you. In serious distress--you know the button to push. Talk to people, but be aware people will be reluctant to talk. You are to always frame things as theological terms. And know that you are being followed and monitored, always. And you know how to find nuns willing to talk."

The two young women nodded.

"Aye, I'hope that th'dyke bars here'ave'a'bett'a selection'o'whiskey than Tibur," the young Nievish nun whispered to her friend.

"I wouldn't get your hopes up," her Josephina friend responded.



@Nieveland @San Jose @Tarusa
 
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Archbasilica Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior, Tibur, Holy See
Sunday 6:00 PM

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Pope John Joseph was terribly uncomfortable. Dressed in the full papal regalia that he so despised: a long white falda (robe) whose train had to be carried by two priests, the heavy golden Papal mantum draping over his shoulders, and the Papal Tiara--a simple gold and pearl design given to him by the People of @San Jose after his election--a gesture he appreciated, but still hated wearing. He was sitting on the Papal Cathedra, an elaborate elevated throne in the apse of the cathedral.

Despite St. Peter's Basilica serving as the Pope's primary church, the Archbasilica was actually the mother church of the Tiburan Catholic world, as it was the oldest church in Tibur and the oldest surviving church outside of the Holy Land (though it has been rebuilt and enlarged several times, particularly during the Renaissance). As a result it was home to the Pope's throne, the Cathedra. From that throne, the Pope spoke with absolute authority--literally speaking ex-cathedra, or from the throne.

Gathered in the apse were many high ranking clergy, including most of the Curia, heads of various religious orders, and other high ranking bishops, all in full choir dress. Noticeably, there were several Mother Superiors of various Sisterhoods sitting in positions usually reserved for bishops. Other guests included diplomats and, of course, the media.

After the Archbasilica's cardinal priest led an opening prayer, the Pope's microphone was turned on. He inhaled and took a looked out across the ornate and ancient church. His eyes finally came to a rest looking into the lens of the television camera in front of him. He exhaled.

"Brothers and sisters in Christ," he started in Tiburan, "there is no perfect time to confront a changing world, but the second best time is now. What I am announcing today is not a change in Church teachings, but rather adaptations that the Universal Church must make as an institution to continue to serve its Mission in Christ. Broadly, there are three major areas in need of reform: first is the organization of the worldly Church, second is the way that the wordily Church interacts with some of its members, and third is the way in which the worldly Church handles crisis.

The first of these tasks is to reform the institutional arrangements within the Church. Such reform has been needed for some time, as we have, in the past, shut ourselves off from those faithful who have much to contribute. To that end, I am opening up all non-ecclesiastic offices to all members of religious orders. This includes offices such as congregation prefects, cabinet secretaries, and membership in the Curia to nuns, monks, and friars. Indeed, after this announcement I will be inducting four Sisters into the Tiburan Curia. The Church is not changing its teachings on who can become priests--instead it is expanding the role of non-priests in our community.

I am also expanding the role of lay Catholics in the Church's decision making. For too long we have ignored the needs of ordinary Catholics, instead only listening to ourselves. Congregants will have the ability to make important decisions in their local parish, and the Church as a whole will consult with all of the faithful on what they need from the Church and how the Church can best provide for them.

The second task is to change how it interacts with its own members who have been historically marginalized. For too long we have denied our queer brothers and sisters a warm home; that ends now. While the Church is not changing its stance on holy matrimony, we recognize that families come in all shapes and sizes. Queer families shall be welcome in the Church. Parish priests and bishops are forbidden from excluding Catholics because they are queer. That this one, very minor sin has so obsessed so many is, frankly, ridiculous..."

"*sigh* Oh fuck, he's going off script..." Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State, mumbled under his breath.

"As I have said before, the Eucharist is food for the hungry, not a reward for the virtuous. The bigger the sinner, the warmer the embrace. To that end, while Abortion is still a grievous sin, it will no longer be necessary for a bishop to preform the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The poor and downtrodden in all communities need our help. Priests and bishops shall refocus their efforts away from petty things and devote themselves fully to taking care of those who most need it. The refugee, the widow, the orphan, the sick, the homeless, the prisoner--to these your focus must be.

And this leads to the final area that needs redress. The recent crises in Himyar, Monterrey, and Pannonia have laid bare that the Church is failing to tend to the temporal needs of its flock. To that end, we will be expanding our relationship with the International Committees for the Red Cross and Crescent, the European Forum and its White Helmets, and expanding the Catholic Refugee Agency. To ensure that pulpits do not become rallies for violence, the power to declare local inquisitions will be suspended from archbishops outside of the Holy See indefinitely, and rest solely with the Papacy until the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith can be modernized.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the coming years will be difficult and these new changes will take time to implement, but we start today, and we start with urgency. We ask God to bless us in this endeavor. Let us bow our heads and ask for God's blessing."

The room didn't have to quiet down to pray--it was already dead silent. Hundreds of miles away, however, the Holy Inquisitor was grinning ear to ear as his two assistants exerted some effort to stop giggling so they could lower their heads in prayer as they watched the proceedings on a smart phone.

"In nomine Patris et Filii, et Spiritus Sanсti. Amen."

"Amen."
 
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Radilo

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Apostolic Palace, Tibur, Holy See
8:00 AM

"How are people reacting to my announcement?" Pope John Joseph asked Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See's Secretary of State.


"They certainly are reacting, El Presidente expressed his support enthusiastically. You seem to have nudged @Tianlong into expanding protections for queer people. And the Greeks threw a hissy fit."

"I see. How old is Cardinal Twal?"

"The Tiburan Patriarch of Hierosolyma--he's in his mid 80s."

"How comfortable would Fouad be in retirement?"

"He wouldn't want to abandon his flock at such a precariously time."

"He wouldn't be. He will have a role to play. But we want to show a commitment now. That young bishop of Tokjin... Yuan Li, he's something of a scholar isn't he, he speaks Hebrew and Greek?"


"Amongst other languages."

"And he has been an advocate for reforms."

"It's why the Archbishop of Uicheon spoke so highly of him."

"I think he would make for a fine Cardinal, and a powerful Tiburan Patriarch to push back against whatever reactionary bigotry the Orthodox wish to act on."


He paused for a moment and a mischievous smile appeared on his face. "It seems i may need to travel some and rally the faithful to these reforms... and garner support for a third Vatican Council. And to me, it seems that the oft neglected Far Eastern Catholics are the ones I should meet first. There I can meet with soon-to-be Cardinal Yuan and see if he is willing... yes, that will be my first official stop. However, I think a surprise Pilgrimage to the Holy Land may be in order... you will make the arrangements, Cardinal Parolin?"

"Of course your Holiness," he responded, nervously.



@San Jose

@The Ottawas
 
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Eclesastic Province of Caitekurke, @Nieveland
9:00 AM Meridian Time

Cardinal Gallagher was praying the Rosary in a small side chapel, when he felt an urgent hand tap his shoulder.

"Cardinalis Gallagher, est Tibur vocatus, urget," a young nun whispered into his ear.

"Gratias tibi," he said dismissing her. "Shite," he said to himself as he got up and made his way to his office's telephone.

"Buongiorno," he said picking up the old rotary phone.

*in Tiburan*

"Cardinal Gallagher, it's Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See's Secre--"

"I know who you are, Pietro, what is this urgent matter you need to discuss?"

"The Holy Father is going on a world tour to promote his new reforms and to gin up support for a Third Vatican Council. He intends to, at some point, stop in Nieveland. Would you be so accommodating to this?"

The Archbishop sighed nervously, "the Holy Father, is not one to hold his tongue..."

"He's the fucking pope--he isn't obligated to hold his tongue."

"The recent reforms will prove controversial, as will a third council..."

"The Pope is aware of this. I should tell you that he is going to announce his intended itinerary soon, regardless of the responses I get from these calls. Everyone will know if someone turns the Pope down."

Cardinal Gallagher gulped, "I will have to discuss arrangements with secular authorities."

"Let me know as soon as possible... oh and one more thing... if the Holy Father wasn't clear enough in his speech, you are not allowed to conduct any Inquisition without Papal authorization."

"Those public events they show on the breakfast show... I would not call them Inquisitions..."

"I don't care what you call them, the Pope and the Holy Inquisitor classify them as Inquisitions, so you cannot do them without explicit approval--I don't care what secular authorities do--if you wish to participate, then you need Vatican approval. Is that understood?"

"Yes, Cardinal Parolin."

"Good. Have a nice day then, Cardinal Archbishop," he said, as the dial tone rang out.

"Shite!"


Gonzaga, Csengian Occupied Pannonia (Zara)
Late Evening

It was a pretty run-down looking place, but then again, everything in Gonzaga looked run-down. The girls could tell it was a gay bar--call it instinct. They both knew that their Zaran was passable, but not for a native--and there was no reason for tourists to be in this town. So they'd pose as a pair of Josephina aid workers. Maria would take the lead, Mhàiri would answer that she was from the colonies in the New World, if pressed to account for her pale skin and mop of curly red hair.

Opening the door and looking inside there was nothing outwardly queer about it. It was just some divey bar. But the girls had enough experience to know what the subtle details were: a bit of makeup here, an odd haircut there, the way "friends" interacted while trying to avoid interaction. Clergy were even easier to spot; clean shaven and well groomed, simple hairstyles, and the like. Patches of lighter skin on their ring fingers suggested that ecclesiastic rings were regularly worn, signs all.

The two young girls spotted a person of interest. She was alone, traditional haircut, drinking a glass of red wine. She had sad eyes, stressed eyes, eyes that were questioning everything. She was a bit older than them, but not by much, maybe in her late 20s, early 30s.

Maria approached her, and in an over-emphasized Thaumantican accent she said, "Sorry to bother you, the work has been stressful, mind if we sit here?"

"Not at all," the woman said, clearly a little tipsy, "what are you two foreign women doing in a hellhole like this?"

"We're with the White Helmets--we're humanitarian workers."

"Oh... well welcome to hell's outhouse--*humph*--well you two girls are cute."

"Thank you, miss..."

"Madeline."

"Ms. Madeline--funny enough we're both named Maria."

"Everybody wants to name their kid after Christ's mother--but not his whore. They're both admirable women--but one is better in polite company. Can I get you two a drink?"

"Si." "Si," both girls responded, having found their first lead.



@San Jose
@Nieveland
@Tarusa
 

Nieveland

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Eclesastic Province of Caitekurke,
6:00 PM Meridian Time

Two passages from MacKinnon's Manifesto were often cited in moments such as these as being contradictory regarding the Socialist Republic's relationship with the Catholic Church:

"May no worldly need dislodge us from our dutiful service to the one true, first, and high Church." (2)

"The Nievish Spiritual Vision (NSV) is a vanguard to the wider Catholic world and nothing will stop our blessed advance." (7)

The NSV is a fluid conversation between clergy, academics, remnant lairds or clans, and indeed the Nievish state. After retiring as first Almskeeper, MacKinnon wrote this about the conflict between NSV's and faith as it was developing in other nations:

"Like man nations possess free-will. As man is no higher than God, no sooner could a nation truly overtake the heart or will of another. To try involves coercion, oppression, and naturally violence that our holy revolution dutifuly fought against." (A Quarter Century of Almskeeping, 102)

In that later work MacKinnon also described a Socialist State's relationship with the Church itself as a one where "trust and loyalty will always be questioned until the outcomes of our service are laid out in their glory to God."

Three Almskeepers had come and gone since MacKinnon with two of his own stock, a MacPherson, and now Aelis Pherson who had imbibed this key lesson from her Uncle. The high Church always possessed a special ability to withdraw key figures and even lower clergy; "You must outwardly dance to Tibur's tune," a hand written note left for Pherson from the previous Almskeeper read and continued: "but inwardly remember that we own the Alms Halls where the dance is done and much can be achieved elsewhere in its chambers."

And so it was when Almskeeper Pherson outwardly commended Pope John Joseph's 'Wider Spiritual Vision', particularly that nuns may be added to the Curia and positions cloistered for this was already an NSV. Activating the voice of lay Catholics was the oldest NSV, after all, and a bedrock of the almshouses and their aldermen and women.

Where the Pope's tune began difficult to tap to were was the making of confessions for abortion unnecessary and relaxed integration of queer service goers. The internal culture and ideology detested these sins in its almshouses whereas the priests were exalted for hearing their sins and blessing their reintegration back into Nievish society.

"Mark me," Almskeeper Pherson would go on to say in a speech nearly a week after the Pope's, "though our Church may no longer call for reconciliation for the murder of a wee Niomonnach in the womb: this socially minded state will!"

Elsewhere Pherson continued the Pope's dance without hesitation hoping that the Aldermen and women would break theirs on the queer issue. Higher commitment to the White Helmets was an aim of her first quarterly NSV that had fallen at the wayside. This could be realized as a way of rotating guardsmen out of the monotony of domestic service. Next, the Catholic Refugee Agency was an easy funnel for popular alms spending and might couple with circulation of socialist literature. Nieveland would certainly continue to give and the Church in Tibur would continue to take.

NSV's evolved quicker than World Spiritual Visions handed down from Tibur, Pherson knew, however up until now the state could wholly rely on a Cardinal Gallagher or Father Heughan to stand with bible and manifesto in hand while she and the alderfolk did the hard work of repressing counter-revolutionary behavior. Earlier the good cardinal had come whinging about a call from abroad asking him to stop attending state pronouncements of death to the Niommonach. Gallagher added weight to significant pronouncements, those televised or widely reported on, however there were several lower level priests the Nievish state called upon for small shire affairs such as a small time drug smuggler strung up abroad that Nieveland could not or would not retain.

This potential loss troubled her, it was essential she thought as previous Keepers had, that the clergy stand (rarely speak or pronounce themselves) while family members were pressed to declare their traitorous kin dead to the Niomonnach. On this issue she would reflect and pray upon perhaps more than any other inflicted upon Nieveland this week.
 
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Radilo

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Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Hierosolyma, Philistaea, Pelasgia
10:00 AM

Cardinal Fouad Twal, the Tiburan Patriarch of Hierosolyma felt calm, calmer than he had felt in a long while. There was no going back now; this would be a necessary fight. The sudden announcement of the Pelasgian state that it would no longer recognize the position of the Catholic Church as a minority religion took everyone off guard. Certainly being nicer to gay families was a small issue when compared to the chasms that Pope John Joseph sought to mend between the two ancient churches. Fouad knew it was about politics, but he was surprised by how badly such cruelty was about to play out.

While the secular authorities unilaterally declared that the Tiburan Catholic Church would no longer have authority over part of the ancient and sacred church, the sight of Christ's burial and resurrection, the ancient balance of power that had existed for centuries could not be undone in a day. Besides it was actually a Muslim family that held the keys to the place. As a result, he was still able to get in, and call congregants to worship in the Catholic section of the sanctuary.

Once a small crowd had gathered he started speaking to them.

"Brothers and sisters in Christ, I have news that is important, disconcerting, but also a moment that we may come together here. I am, effective once my successor arrives, stepping down from my position as the Patriarch of Hierosolyma. I however will not be retiring, I will once again devote myself entirely to the pastoral work, serving as a priest here. Rest assured, I am going nowhere. Sorry, you're all still stuck with me," he paused as there was a bit of a chuckle from the small crowd.

"The Pope will speak here soon, whether in person or electronically." He gestured and took his smartphone out of his pocket. The small crowd did the same.


Hierosolyma Airport
10:00AM

On the tarmac, the relatively small white aircraft made its way to its gate. On board was Francisco Bergoglio, with diplomatic passport in hand. Only his passport also had his newer moniker: John Joseph.

He assumed it was a mistake when they greenlit his visit, he was hoping for that, but he doubted he could complete his pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre. He had though he might wear red robes, hoping to throw off customs agents, but no. He needed to be in white--he needed to be seen. If he was stopped, he needed the image of them stopping the Pope from going to the holiest site in Christendom--as a pilgrim.

He was going to give his sermon one way or the other. And he knew the world would be watching.

As the plane taxied to the gate he lowered his head and offered up a small prayer, for himself and for and the million Catholics in this country who because of him had become second class citizens overnight.

"We must do what is necessary for human dignity," he said to no one, though his body men heard him. He would not have the armed security he usually did, as he had not declared it--he didn't even ask for an escort. He was in God's hands--and he felt a deep peace with that. He sighed and made his way out of the plane.

Making his way through the jet bridge he walked with pleasant confidence, as he entered the gate area people started to do double takes. A whisper rolled through the assembled passengers and staff. People started elbowing each other. They took out their phones--at first to confirm what the Pope looked like, then to start taking pictures. As he made his way through the terminal, he smiled and waved at people if they waved to him. As he kept walking people started to follow him, smartphones out. He was also being trailed by a handful of reporters and cameramen who had gotten a well placed tip, including the AP.

Finally, the whispering died as a young boy walked in front of him. The Pope stopped, and the little boy asked him, in Pelasgian, if he really was the Pope. In his best Hellenic he answered, "yes, my boy, I am Il Papa."

People started saying "Il Papa" and "Pápas," as he walked by. Even though most of the crowd were not Catholic--this was still the fucking Pope, so people were still star-struck. That and the man had a genuine aura about him. There was a gentle charisma about him, an intense warmth that was both sturdy and soft. And his calmness permeated the terminal, as it did his sermons. It wasn't always so though, while in intimate settings he always had this kind of serenity, when he preached, as a young priest, he spoke with the fire of liberation theology. There was a reason El Presidente, looked up to him.


San José, 1975

"People say that when I speak against the great global conspiracy to exploit the human race that I speak of some secret cabal meeting in dark, smoke filled rooms rooms... No! I speak of THESE injustices." He said making a sweeping gesture. "The global system's lack of basic empathy--how we all allow ourselves to trudge through the same brutal routines day after day. THAT is the conspiracy! The conspiracy is our collective indifference to human suffering. Our tolerance of our brothers' misery is our damnation!" He shouted slamming his fist down on the pulpit. "This is not some wild eyed, tinfoil hat ranting--this is the reason Christ came down from heaven and died on the cross! Every bit of human cruelty is only exacerbates suffering. We must learn to love and take care of one another or we will die!"



Hierosolyma Airport, 2022

As he made his way to customs, Catholics in the crowd started encircling him. He was never stopped, but he did slow down quite a bit. He would pause to kiss babies, hug people, and shake hands. And offer his blessing to people. He was now being filmed by dozens of not hundreds of cameras. Some people teared up in his presence. Airport staff had no idea what they were supposed to do. As he neared the customs/immigration desk, he turned to the crowd of Catholics that gathered around him. He was also live on most of the world's news networks.

"The mother church will never forget about her oldest and most loyal flock. You here, the literal blood decedents of the Seventy Disciples, we will never forget you--never abandon you. These upcoming times will be hard, but we will work, tirelessly, for you. We may have had to reach to the Far End of the Earth, but we will never stop trying. You will have to endure things you should not, oppression you should not. I am sorry for what I have brought upon you. But we must never abandon our compassion for our fellow children of God, in the face of cruel people demanding you follow in their cruelty. May the love of God fill your hearts. Do not hate, even your oppressors. I beg you--be Christ like. I am sorry for putting you through this, you do not deserve to be martyrs. You deserve to be protected by your government, not oppressed. You deserve to be safe and free from abuse. You deserve to love and have families without harassment and intimidation from those who swore to aid and protect you..."

He bowed his head and started praying in Tiburan, the Catholics around him joined in. "Amen," he whispered. "I am going, I hope, as a simple pilgrim, to pray at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Please pray for me."

As he spoke, the crowd at the aforementioned scared and ancient church burst out into applause.

He squeezed his way to the desk and came face to face with a terrified young woman in a green uniform.

"I am Francisco Bergoglio," he said, smiling, "I am here to claim my diplomatic visa. I am a here as a humble pilgrim--I wish only to walk in the footsteps of Christ. I should be here less than a day."

The poor girl, never blinking picked up a phone on her desk, "I need... someone... it's the Pope."


@San Jose
@The Ottawas
 
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Pelasgia

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10:30 AM

The law is a peculiar thing. Popularly perceived as a clear set of black-and-white rules governing public conduct in a manner that generally aligns with common morals and values, it is, in fact, more than anything else a grey element of power, which serves to preserve the common peace more by means of well-ordered and highly targeted violence, or the threat thereof. In times of peace, this fundamental quality of law hides under so many layers that the common man genuinely thinks that the law is a "social contract" whereby the State as his servant does what he and most like him think right to protect them from wrong. In times of war or instability however, when power is threatened, the State is often revealed as a gang of stationary bandits, and the law as nothing more than the institutionalised and formalised rules by which it interacts with those within its turf. "Inter armas silent leges," the Tiburans used to say; "All power derives from the barrel of a gun," said another mighty Bandit King of the stately variety several centuries later, but no less correctly.

Anwar bin Jabal held the first, more common and idealistic vision of the law. As the head of the old and important Urudoah family of Moslem Hierosolymites that had been granted the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by the authorities of the short-lived E.F. Mandate of the Isphilistines, his comfortable existence had allowed him that luxury. Alas, one day, Anwar woke up and all of that changed in an instant.

"Proscription," was the term used by the man in the greyish-green uniform—an officer of the Imperial Gendarmerie. "Proscription." That was a word that had entered the Pelasgian legal lexicon for the first time in the days of the Tiburan civil wars; however, its more recent appearance was owed to the Delictum Sui Generis Acts of 1929 and 1936, euphemistically entitled "Measures concerning the protection of the social and constitutional regime, and of the State". By this, the Carian Dynasty that then still occupied the Pelasgian Throne had hoped to stamp out opposition to its rule and its developmental policies, both of which it succeeded in doing, for a time. The law atrophied in the decade before the end of Carian rule, and remained on the books largely as a dead letter, a mere formality, made redundant by Pelasgia's newfound independence and freedom. Yet, now that the State felt threatened again... how the word "proscription" resurfaced.

"The Emperor's most Excellent Majesty," the officer continued, "by the advice of the Council of State, has invoked the powers vested into Him under c. 215 of the Imperial Code, to issue the present decree." Here, the officer read out a long list of offences of which Anwar and his family were accused, including but not limited to usurpation of public goods, violation of duties owed to the public and the state, gross insult to public morals and religious sentiment, theft of public property, violation of a holy space, usurpation of public powers, embezzlement, and—most concerningly—aiding and abetting terrorists and conspiring to overthrow 'the established social and legal regime, including the rule of the Sublime Throne and the rights and privileges of the Great Church of Christ'. Once this last sentence had been read out, Anwar could already foresee what was to come next. "By reason whereof, our Most Majestic Sovereign decrees and ordains that the said Anwar bin Jabal, as well as his following family members and relatives [...], be proscribed within the meaning of c. 215 of the Imperial Code."

Here, Anwar had demanded precisely what was meant by "proscription". The officer and those accompanying him—a small army of green-clad gendarmes—were quick to demonstrate: the bin Jabal's home was ransacked and their property was confiscated; their funds were seized and their accounts frozen; their public honours revoked and their position as holders of the keys of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre stripped; their persons imprisoned, to be held indefinitely under a special proceeding until the truth of their affiliation with radical Catholic terror networks could be ascertained; their communication with the outside world was cut, other than the tightly monitored and controlled channels given to them by the authorities. In the flick of an eye, the hole House of bin Jabal had been neutralised, rendered impotent by the terrifying power of a State that felt even mildly challenged or threatened.

Anwar knew what this was about: sending a message. He feared not just for himself, but also for whoever was the intended addressee. After all, he was a good and caring man, which was why he had made the mistake that had landed him in a cell.

Before long, the door of the cell opened again, and in walked the superior of the officer who had seized Anwar from his home: a certain Lieutenant Anna Geraka. The Lieutenant had an offer for Anwar, straight from her superiors. He could take it and see the proscription lifted—or he could face the logical end of his current predicament, along with everyone he loved.

---

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Hierosolyma, Philistaea, Pelasgia
11:00 AM

Cardinal Fouad Twal and his followers had scarcely had a chance to hear the Pope's sermon when the doors of the temple burst open. From outside, the cries of a myriad voices resonated: "Heretic, heretic!" they chanted. The Pelasgian Orthodox majority had surrounded the temple to demand the extrication of the heretical sect that illegally occupied its promises. The Cardinal was likely not surprised to see this; however, what he must have been surprised to see was a not-insignificant contigent of what appeared to be Propontine Catholics chanting alongside the Orthodox. At their head was none other than Bishop Athanasius of Hierosolyma, the Propontine Catholic Exarch for the Holy City and all of Philistaea, and a noted conservative leader.

"The heresy that you and the Antipope you claim to represent peddle has polluted this holy place for long enough!" he cried, as he entered the premises. He held out a document before the congregants before continuing. "The Great Sovereign has recognised the Propontine Catholic Exarchate as the sole legitimate holder of the former rights of the Tiburan Catholic Church in the Empire; and the Exarchate, in turn, has relieved itself of its loyalty to the current occupant of the Holy See, until a non-heretic comes to occupy it."

At once, a great cry erupted on both sides, and it was clear that, were it not for the hundreds upon hundreds of gendarmes and police officers deployed to keep the two crowds apart, violence would have broken out. Yet, at that moment, in walked the familiar figure of the tall, slender man who served as the custodian of the Temple's keys: Anwar bin Jabal. For an instant, the Pope's supporters in the temple were thrilled—until, that is, Anwar opened his mouth. "He speaks the truth," Anwar said, emerging into the light of the Church's stained-glass windows; he seemed to have aged ten years in a day, and his gaze stared past his interlocutors, almost directly through them: a broken man, if one had ever been seen, reduced to a vessel for another's words. "The part of the Temple allotted to the Tiburan Church under the instruments that ended the E.F. Mandate over the Holy City has now passed to the Propontine Catholic Exarchate."

"It is not the Emperor's to give!" came a cry from among the papal faction.

"Unfortunately it is," Anwar replied in a defeated but sincere tone. "As of this morning, me and my family have relinquished our duties as Custodians of the Church of the Holy Supulcher to the Sublime Throne. Thus, the Pelasgian Emperor is now the Custodian of this church, and the keeper of its keys, in keeping with the Instrument of Annexation."

To illustrate Anwar's point, the commander of the gendarmes showed the key itself before addressing the Cardinal and his flock. "You are to clear the premises for your own safety. The Throne's officers will escort you out safely and free from any harm. Any resistance will be severely punished." As he said so, a whole new host of officers in riot gear emerged to remove the pilgrims—kicking and screaming if need be, though without the use of weapons or grenades. The Church was to remain unscathed and to not be turned into the sight of a massacre. In so far as the Empire's authorities were concerned, one desecration was enough for the day. And the desecration's author, Cardinal Fouad Twal, would pay dearly for what he had done.

A decree of proscription awaited with his name on it, providing that he was to be stripped of his office and held for collaborating with a foreign government to overturn the legitimate authority of the Sublime Throne and the Constitution. Treason, in short, a capital offence—and one that would most likely see the Cardinal reduced to penal exile. His conduct, and that of the Pontiff, would determine whether that exile would be to Tibur, or to one of the notorious hellish labour camps on the Empire's smaller arid islets, which were unfit for human habitation.

---

Hierosolyma International Airport "Leon Angelopoulos"
10:05 AM

Hierosolyma International Airport was unique in the sense that it was not merely an airport but also a memorial. Specifically, it was the memorial of the late Lord Leon Angelopoulos, father of the incumbent Prime Minister of Pelasgia and first High Commissioner of the Sublime Throne in Philistaea during the territory's transition from an E.F. Mandate to a province of the Pelasgian Empire. It was here that the High Commissioner in question, Leon Angelopoulos, had been gunned down by a Zionist radical while inspecting the then-newly completed premises. Pelasgia owed the man much, so it had come as no surprise that the then-unnamed airport (which was built to replace the Holy City's old, 1950s-era main aerial gateway) was christened after him.

This namesake was unmistakable to all who landed there, as the main terminal of the airport (where Leon Angelopoulos had been assassinated) was decorated with a large portrait of the man, along with his name. It in the shadow of this very portrait, under the gaze of the official who had shed his blood so that Philistaea might return to the Imperial fold yet again, that the Pontiff of Tibur, John Joseph, now attempted to illegally enter Hierosolyma.

"Attention, all passengers: the Customs Section of Terminal B is under an immediate evacuation order due to security reasons. Please follow the instructions of airport personnel and proceed to the Customs Sections of Terminals C and D in an orderly fashion, unless otherwise directed by the appropriate authorities." So echoed a soft feminine voice through the glass, steel and concrete mass of the terminal.

Almost instantaneously, the Rapid Reaction force of the Imperial Gendarmerie's Border Security Directorate, which was attached to the airport at all times, rushed into the spacious room to clear it of all passengers, save for the Pope's entourage. A platoon of the men, in full riot gear, surrounded the Pontiff and his fellow travellers; it was for good reason too, for, among the onlookers many had started to realise who this Francisco Bergoglio was, without necessarily being his supporters.

"Heretic, go back to your brothel!" cried one group of Orthodox Pelasgians, joined by an elderly priest who avoided such language but voiced the same sentiment.

"You have abandoned our faith and exposed us to our compatriots, false Pope!" cried another man, who belonged to the Propontine Catholics (that is, Pelasgian Christians who had accepted the primacy of Tibur but otherwise followed identical liturgy and traditions as the Orthodox Pelasgians—these were largely a conservative bunch, even more so than mainstream Orthodox Pelasgians a lot of the time, and their Exarch had made a point of resisting the incumbent Pope even to the point of a schism. Of course not everyone went along with the Exarch, since a considerable minority resisted his radical Sedevecandism, but they lacked the institutional support that the Exarch's faction had from the Imperial authorities).

Nevertheless, both these opponents and the Pope's supporters were gradually pushed away from the terminal, until only John Joseph and his entourage remained. As this happened, a man dressed in a Commander's uniform of the Imperial Gendarmerie emerged from behind the stunned woman who had phoned for backup a few moments earlier.

"Your Excellency," said the man, purposefully using the title reserved for a head of state and not a religious leader. "I am Commander Rigas Kavallaris of the Imperial Gendarmerie, and I am in charge of this airport's policing. Your visit was not previously cleared with our authorities, nor does it qualify for a diplomatic visa, since you are not a diplomat, but a foreign head of state visiting. Since the proper paperwork was not filed in advance, we will have to deny both you and your entourage entry to the Sublime Throne's domain. However, as a sign of good faith, he have elected to not pursue charges related to illegal entry and false declarations. You can challenge this decision after the fact judicially; however, for the moment, I will have to ask you to follow me. I will be taking you back to your plane, which we have detained and prepared for a flight back to Tibur—or to whichever foreign destination you choose." The Commander paused and thought to comment on the Pope's speech. "I will also have to ask you to not make such a speach again; it violates our country's law, and since you are a foreigner here, what you say is not protected under our Constitution. If you do so again, we may have to impose an administrative sanction which would bar you from visiting Pelasgia ever again."

. @Radilo
 

Radilo

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Leon Angelopoulos International Airport, Hierosolyma
10:10 AM

Il Papa leaned in close to the officer, and embraced him. "Rigas, my child," he whispered to him, "I will pray for you. If my plane is ready, then I am ready to resume my journey to Uicheon @Tianlong . I will give you no further anxiety here."

The officer paused for a moment, seemingly lost in thought, before nodding and leading the Pope and his entourage back to their plane.



Somewhere in Hierosolyma
~Noonish

When his cellphone rang Bishop Athanasius answered it quickly. He had taken a moment to pause after all of the events that had transpired and was anxiously awaiting... something.

"Chaírete," he answered the voice coming out of the phone was not the person he was expecting.

"Cardinal Exarch," said the Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin in Pelasgian. Athanasius was silent, he wasn't sure exactly what to do or say or if he should even stay on the line. "You know it's odd," Parolin continued, "you have not sent me anything indicating that you wish to resign as Cardinal Exarch, but if what you have said publicly was sincere, I presume you wish to resign. I say this because we are sending out invitations now the upcoming Vatican Council. You, Athanasius, as Cardinal Exarch for Propontine Catholics would normally be invited to attend such an affair. Unless you mean to formally resign." Parolin paused for a moment before laughing a bit, "you know it is funny that you called him an anti-pope... as I recall a few years ago we were both in the Sistine Chapel, I remember you because you wear a distinct habit. The protodeacon announced: post quartum scrutinium, Cardinalis Bergoglio, octoginta septem suffragia, and everyone stood up and cheered. Then there was the white smoke and everything else... do you recall that Cardinal Exarch?"



@The Ottawas
 
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Pelasgia

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Around noon

"I recall the Pope swearing to uphold the word of Christ and his Apostles," Athanasius answered, after pausing for a few moments more. "I am not resigning from anything, nor are my followers; we merely refuse to recognise the authority of your Anti-Pope and of the Council he purports to convene. Until John Joseph vacates the Tiburan See, we will consider it vacant—and by 'we' I mean a significant portion of the Pelasgian faithful. Some remain aligned with you, but then, there have always been heretics who clung to the power of this world more than that of the next..."

He let a few moments pass before continuing; evidently, the Secretary of State had been taken aback by the Exarch's sudden resolve, as well as the content of his words. "If and when John Joseph decides to repent, you can contact me, so that normal communication between the Holy Mother Church and the Propontine Catholic Patriarchate of Hierosolyma may be restored. Until then, I have no intention of legitimating the Anti-Pope's charades with my presence. I fear neither Pope, nor King, but only God!"

He hung up and immediately looked across the room, at the unassuming pale man who was sat there.

"Well spoken, Your Eminence," said Colonel Theodosios Sigelos, the officer of the Imperial Krypteia who had been assigned to liaise between the State and the sedevecandist faction of the Tiburan Church in Pelasgia.

For his part, Athanasius offered no reply. Certainly, the secular power could protect him against any reprisals within the Empire's borders. All Catholic property and orders would be now subsumed to his faction, and those still loyal to the Pope would find themselves completely without any formal recognition or protection from the authorities; and yet, he could not help but silently gasp at what he had just done. For the first time in almost a thousand years, there had been a great schism within the Tiburan Catholic Church. Deep down, he knew that he was right, and that he was doing God's work by resisting a heretical Anti-Pope who had come to falsely occupy the Tiburan See. Nevertheless, he wondered just how he would managed to endure this great burden—and how his flock would do the same. At once, rather than reply to the Krypteia Colonel with his sardonic smile (who was no doubt revelling in seeing the Catholics fight among themselves), Athanasius chose to head for his private chapel to pray.

Only God would see the Church through these trying times.

@Radilo
 
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