The year is 2009. America has its first Catholic president since Kennedy. The planet's other superpower is the Federation of Islamic Republics, stretching from Morocco to Pakistan. And in Rome, the aging Polish Pope, obstinate and combative to the end, has died, and the conclave of cardinals must choose a successor. After a great deal of argument and debate, they choose the least controversial candidate, the least political, the one least likely to upset the Vatican status quo--Brian O'Flynn, a kindly old Irish priest who reads Yeats and publishes obscure academic theses. At the moment of his election, a 300-pound ornamental pillar falls on his head.
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