VATICAN CITY—Saying he’s appeared uneasy and distracted while delivering masses in recent days, Vatican insiders reported Wednesday that His Holiness Pope Francis is “getting pretty anxious” about his upcoming annual performance review with God.
Francis, who is employed as Vicar of Christ, Successor to the Throne of Saint Peter, and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, is required by Vatican workplace guidelines to meet at least once a year with his immediate superior, God, and participate in an official evaluation of his strengths and weaknesses on the job, a formality of the position that, by all accounts, has led to a bout of nerves for the pope.
“I feel like I’m doing pretty good work—I’ve prayed harder, increased my total blessings over last year’s numbers—but who among us knows what He thinks?” said Francis, who was seen this morning restlessly pacing across the Seconda Loggia of the Apostolic Palace and wiping his forehead with a cassock sleeve. “I’m sure I could stand to step up my shepherding of the faithful a bit. Maybe squeeze in a few more canonizations. Am I being penitent enough on a daily basis? I don’t know.”
“He says it should just be a quick chat, but is that a good or a bad thing?” the pope continued. “Man, I just want to get this over with.”
Sources within the Holy See confirmed the pontiff has spent much of the week second-guessing his job performance and asking himself whether he has been effective at managing his workload, prioritizing tasks, serving as the sole earthly representative of God’s will for all of humanity, and setting achievable goals. Though he expressed confidence that he had done pretty well with his official papal exhortations, he is said to worry that he might have “botched a homily or two” over the past 12 months.
According to liturgical experts, the pope’s employee appraisal takes place each year just before Lent, and is one of only a few dates on the church calendar when a Vatican worker is called in for an actual face-to-face meeting with the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Behind the closed doors of an emptied Saint Peter’s Basilica, the reigning pontiff is said to kneel before God, who poses a series of standardized questions, asking the pope what he enjoys most about his current role and what areas he feels he could improve upon.
“I did pretty well on all my performance measures last year, and He just told me to make sure I keep the lines of communication open and run papal proclamations by Him first if it’s something important,” Francis said. “I feel like I’ve done that, which is good, but what if I haven’t met His overall expectations? It’s entirely possible He was just going easy on me last time since it was my first year on the job.”
“I’m really trying to do my best and stay on His good side,” the pope continued. “He sometimes has a bit of a temper.”
Although God is universally known for His compassion and mercy, members of the Roman Curia confirmed He can be demanding as a supervisor, with some speculating that because He is infinitely perfect Himself, He tends to have very high standards for others. They also said it is particularly difficult for popes during their annual employee assessments, as their direct supervisor wields so much power and, on top of everything else, is all-knowing. Fortunately, they noted, He is “pretty forgiving.”
“I can’t even imagine going in for a job review with God Himself, with Him sitting there in His big throne evaluating your performance,” said Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. “That’s got to be an intimidating conversation, especially because you can’t hide any of the mistakes you’ve made given that He sees all. That being said, Francis seriously needs to relax. He’s been doing a great job.”
“He’s probably just nervous because he’s been talking to the last guy who had his job,” Mamberti added. “That guy couldn’t handle it at all and ended up quitting.”