Sibling rivalry magnified
I came across an article where the family of Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet expresses mixed feelings about their brother being a front runner for the vacant pope position. Coming from a family of six, I can understand that.
Anyone who has brothers and sisters knows there is always some sort of sibling rivalry, competition or one-upmanship. We all try to make sure we are not the black sheep or the family disgrace and although we are, for the most part, proud of our brothers’ and sisters’ accomplishments, we like to maintain a status quo in the family pecking order.
If someone gets a promotion or a raise, we understandably check to see if that affects us adversely. When one of the children gets a new job, mom will phone the others and pass on the good news. This of course prompts the others to either find something wrong with the new position or try to play a better card.
So imagine picking up the phone and your mom says, “So, did you hear, your brother’s the pope now?” Man, how the heck are you going to top that?
You try to be negative and respond, “Oh yeah, so I guess he has to move to Rome now, eh?” But mom counters with “Yes, but it comes with a new house and car, too.” This conversation is not going well.
Now suppose the rest of you have always suspected this brother was mom’s favorite. You all have great jobs and you are all well-educated but, holy smokes, a Canadian boy from Quebec being selected the pope is about as good as being a first-round draft choice for the Montreal Canadiens. If he wasn’t her favourite before, he’s going to be pretty hard to edge out now.
You can’t use the normal derogatory slams that you can with the other kids. You can’t comment on the woman he’s seeing, you can’t comment on the clothes he wears and his lifestyle is pretty much beyond reproach. Grabbing for straws, you may blurt out, “So what about those guys he’s been hanging around with, weren’t some of them in trouble a while back?”
Right away you’ll feel guilty. Then when mom says, “Oh, he told me he doesn’t even know them, he’s never even spoken to any of them. You know your brother better than that.” You know you just lost a couple of points.
The big question is, when he’s the pope, do you still treat him as your brother? I can’t see dropping by for beer or taking him out to play golf or poker. What about family dinners? Just wait until you tell your wife a week before that the pope is coming for Thanksgiving dinner. She will freak out, asking about protocol, menu, seating. The only easy decision for you is you know who you will choose to say grace.
Yes, I’m sure it is equally as tough on the successful candidate as well. What does he do when he gets an invitation to the old high school reunion? Can you imagine the other classmates that called him a wimp and a loser praying that he doesn’t show up?
Certainly, the selection will be a life-changing decision for the entire family and mom’s final words would probably be, “And don’t you boys make fun of his hat.” At least that’s what McGregor says.