Written by Paolo Sorrentino
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino
Lenny Belardo, the newly elected 47-year-old pope, wakes from a nightmare and goes through his morning routine in his papal apartment.
At breakfast, an older nun approaches the Pope more informally than those before her. She has served as the personal chef to the past three popes, so she feels a sense of familiarity. He does not take kindly to this, and tells her he is not a fan of informal relationships as they can get confusing. Her heart breaks at this first interaction, and she sorrowfully retreats.
A group of cardinals discuss Belardo’s youth, and how his being from America adds an interesting angle to the papacy. They speculate as to whether or not he is really calling the shots and wonder how his mentor, Cardinal Michael Spencer, is taking the news of his appointment.
“My only sin -- and it’s an enormous one -- is that my conscience does not accuse me of anything.” - Lenny Belardo
Lenny goes to confession and he tells the priest, Don Tommaso, he has nothing to confess.
Lenny nervously waits for someone at the Vatican's helipad. Sister Mary, who cared for Lenny as a boy, emerges from a helicopter. Seeing her triggers a childhood memory for Lenny, of his arrival at an orphanage and Sister Mary greeting him. He was clutching a briar pipe, which he explained his father told him to keep with him always. Lenny is still holding that same pipe at the helipad, now a bit more worn and missing a piece. Lenny walks Sister Mary to her apartment, only a few feet away from his. She gives Lenny an encouraging talk about his new role in the church.
“There’s a new pope now.” - Lenny Belardo
Cardinal Voiello, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, tells Lenny there is concern surrounding his first homily, but he has drafted a speech to present to His Holiness. Lenny, however, asks that Voiello personally make him a cup of American coffee before they discuss the matter any further. Voiello complies, and when he returns to the homily, Lenny pushes back and says they will discuss it later. Voiello brings up the role of the pope's special assistant, and Lenny says he wants Sister Mary to take it. The meeting grows even more tense when Lenny lights a cigarette, which Voiello objects to. Lenny reminds the cardinal he has his own way of doing things.
Voiello tasks another priest, Amatucci, with an investigation of Lenny to find out his weak spots, past trials, tribulations and sins.
In his confession to Don Tommaso, Lenny admits he doesn't believe in God, an idea that terrifies the other priest. Lenny quickly rebuffs and says he was kidding, but it’s clear Tommaso is skeptical.