You can listen to it here.
The Guest of St Peter's imagines just such a scenario.
Thomas Perret is supposed to be dead. Two years ago he resigned as Pope Paul VII, citing old age and illness that made him incapable of carrying out his duties. He has lived ever since in almost total isolation in a small monastery within the grounds of the Vatican City. It was widely assumed that Perret wouldn't last long, but he shows no signs of dying any time soon.
Perret's successor, Pope Leo XIV, has a big problem. A hardline conservative, he has excommunicated a group of liberal American Catholic priests who were offering contraception advice to their parishioners. The Americans have defied him, and have rapidly attracted support from progressive Catholics all over the western world. Leo's authoritarian stance has backfired. Decades of disillusionment with the Vatican's unwillingness to change has boiled over, and Leo now faces the very real risk of a split. At the very least, the absolute authority of the papacy has been gravely undermined. It needs desperately to be shored up.
Cardinal Sastre, the Vatican secretary of state, has a plan. He visits the old Pope in his monastery and appeals to him to make an intervention.
As sides are taken and battle lines drawn, Sastre realises that he has embarked in a dangerous course. The Vatican, after all, is a house of cards, and his actions are in danger of bringing the whole thing crashing down...
Even were the Church run according to the crude notions of power assumed by the playwright, they would be expressed in spiritual terms, not in the gauche language of this drama.
It seems to me quite telling that the BBC should think this worthy of broadcasting; the plot, I suppose one could argue, was worthwhile and topical, but the treatment was ill-informed and unconvincing. The characterisation was full of prejudice and lacked any subtlety or sophistication, still less spirituality. Given that Radio 4's drama is normally of a high standard, this was particularly disappointing.
Essentially this was propaganda, urging the Vatican and orthodox Catholics to get with the plot, and change practice on celibacy and doctrine on contraception and homosexuality (though nobody in the play seemed to understand the difference between discipline and doctrine), so as to stay in touch with real Catholics in the real world.