Pope Sophia VII (born Cynthia Shannon McGrady, 25 March 3245) is the current Pope of Roman Communion of the United Catholic Church, and Sovereign of the Vatican City State. She is only the 28th Pope to be a woman, and the seventh to take the regnal name Sophia.
Prior to her election to the papacy in 3295, she was a Cardinal, known for her political and social advocacy, and served as Cardinal Secretary of State for the Vatican City State. She was Archbishop of São Paulo and Primate of Brazil between 3272 and 3295, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 3277.
As the daughter of the wealthy and notable McGrady political family, whose support for the Church was long established, Cynthia was fast-tracked into the priesthood and into an episcopal career. She became one of the most notable advocates for the Church's position within the political order of the Republic, a fierce proponent of social welfare and National Humanism, and a noted public preacher through the use of holonet video, radio, broadcast television, and social media. In addition to her pastoral and episcopal roles, she is also a noted diplomat and politician.
Ordained a priestess of the Diocese of Kolossen in 3267, Cynthia proceeded to the Pontifical Seminary on Earth for her higher education as a Bishop. Her progress through the Church hierarchy at a young age has been subject to criticism, but many have pointed to her competence, activism, and success.
Early life and education
Cynthia Shannon McGrady was born on March 25th, 3245 in the space habitat Wallerstein, home of the McGrady Family, as the third daughter and fifth child to Shannon McGrady and Patrick David McGrady. She was raised at the family estate among her siblings, and considered a career in media and journalism during her secondary education. Her expressed desire was to "bring truth to the masses". Her mother pushed her instead towards a career in the Church, and personally appealed for her acceptance into seminary school.
McGrady attended the St. Catherine Academy for Girls from ages 5 to 18. Upon matriculation, and graduating valedictorian, from the Academy she attended the Wallerstein Catholic Theological Seminary from 3263 to 3267. She graduated in May 3267 with a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree and was readily ordained as a priestess in the Catholic Church for the Diocese of Kolossen. She subsequently attended the Pontifical College at Rome, Earth, with the intent of receiving doctoral education for the path of becoming a Bishop, from January 3268 to May 3271 and graduated with a Doctor of Canon Law degree.
As the daughter of a traditionally Catholic family, with an innate desire to spread "the good news", McGrady was groomed for a career in the Church and readily placed herself into the Roman communion as a member of the clergy.
McGrady took holy orders on 9 July 3267 and was ordained a priestess and was that same day ordained a clerical sister of the Society of the Holy Word. She served in the role of priestess for the Catholic chapel attached to the Wallerstein Metropolitan University for four months before transferring to Earth. During this time she was promoted within the SHW to the rank of Rector.
After her education at the Pontifical College and achievement of her doctorate, McGrady was ordained as a Bishop on 22 May 3271. She was appointed to head the Diocese of Rotterdam, to the surprise of many. Her youth and lack of pastoral experience were seen by her critics as major faults. However, she proved to be an able theologian, preacher, and organizer. Her skills brought revenues from the declining diocese up by 60%, and began pulling congregants back in at record numbers. Her supporters attributed it to her charisma and her savvy use of social media and the holographic network to appeal to disenchanted Catholics in the region.
She was shuffled around in late 3272 to the troubled Archdiocese of São Paulo, Brazil. She was appointed Archbishop of São Paulo and Primate of Brazil. She continued her style of media-savvy preaching and social teachings, and hosted a prime-time television and radio program, The Holy Word. She preached a combination of social justice, human nationalist rhetoric, and Christian theology, which especially appealed to the poorer agriculturalists and urban workers from São Paulo. As was the case in Rotterdam, she was very successful and transformed the São Paulo archbishopric into among the most financially stable, culturally influential, and smoothly-run districts in the Church organization. She was considered for a higher position within the Church, and her supporters lobbied for an elevation to the cardinalate.
Due to her successes in bringing people back into the fold of the Roman communion on Earth, Archbishop McGrady gathered a following of supporters within the Roman Catholic clergy. An inner circle formed, composed mainly of fellow Bishops ordained within the Society of the Holy Word. The Society's public mission was the fusion of National Humanist thought with Catholic social teaching and ministry, and the promotion of the Church's place in human society. This coincided with Archbishop McGrady's sermons and methods in the episcopate. The Cardinal Chamberlain to Pope Francis VII suggested to increase Archbishop McGrady's standing in the Church in order to secure her loyalty to the Papacy and her value to the Church; the Pope agreed after some convincing. She was raised to the position of Cardinal on 30 March 3277. Around the same time, she was promoted within the SHW to the rank of Provincial Superior for Brazil. Later, in 3280, she was promoted to Superior Councillor, as a member of the Society's governing council. She held this rank until her election to the Papacy.
The high-level nature of her rank in the Church, her high-profile social advocacy, and the ideals of the Society of the Holy Word established a high likelihood of Cardinal McGrady's entry into Terran politics. In 3282, Pope Francis VII died and his Cardinal Secretary of State resigned as is customary. Cardinal McGrady was tapped for the position and was confirmed in December 3282 after the election of the new Pope Augustus III. She took the role as the chief diplomatic and foreign relations figure for the Church-ruled Vatican City State, immediately establishing good relations with the nascent Central Galactic Union. This was due to several factors: her public advocacy of ideals similar to the national ideology of the new Republic; her family's existing position and unquestioned loyalty within Terran and Galactic society; and her demonstrated skill at organization and diplomacy. Pursuant to her appointment, she was named titular Bishop of Ostia.
As a member of the College of Cardinals, she was entitled to vote on the election of a new Pope, and was considered papabile by many outsider analysts. In the early 3290s, she became privately understood as a sharp critic of Pope Augustus and his involvement in numerous illegal activities by the Vatican City State's institutions, as well as the conciliatory attitude of the Pope towards alien refugees seeking sanctuary at Church establishments.
Pope Sophia is part of the large, wealthy, and powerful McGrady political and noble family. Her mother, Shannon McGrady, is the current Prime Minister of the Republic and a hereditary member of the Central Galactic Congress and previously served as a Member of Parliament to the Imperial Terran House of Commons, as well as the Speaker of the House of Commons. Her father, Patrick David McGrady, was the CEO of Drake Industries prior to the merger with the McGrady Financial Group; he has since been the President and CEO of the McGrady Corporation. Cardinal McGrady herself is the middle child of Shannon and Patrick's nine children.
She is an accomplished equestrian and fencer, having honed the skills since primary school under her mother's tutelage. She also engages recreationally in chess, martial arts, and backgammon.
Titles, honours, styles, and arms
- 3 August 3263: Novice Cynthia McGrady
- 9 July 3267: The Rev Mother Cynthia McGrady
- 15 May 3271: The Rev Dr Cynthia McGrady
- 22 May 3271: Her Grace The Bishop of Rotterdam
- 19 November 3272: Her Grace The Archbishop of São Paulo and Primate of Brazil
- 30 March 3277: Her Eminence Cynthia, Cardinal McGrady, GF
- 13 December 3282: Her Eminence Cynthia, Cardinal Secretary of State, DMT GF GS
- 2 March 3295: Her Holiness Pope Sophia VII
- Grand Mistress of the Supreme Order of Christ
- Grand Mistress of the Golden Spur
- Dame of the Order of St. Mary of Terra
- Dame of the Golden Fleece
- Dame of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
- Archbishop and Matriach of Rome and Primate of Italy
- Superior Councillor of the Society of the Holy Word (former)
- Archbishop of São Paulo and Primate of Brazil (former)
- Cardinal Secretary of State (former)
- Titular Bishop of Ostia (former)