Thursday, February 14, 2013


In the time I have been writing for Panorama I have on more than one occasion crossed swords with the then Supreme Leader. However I can tell you for nothing that as I passed a certain door in Irish Town on Tuesday I genuflected. Nothing over the top, more a stumble really, fellow pedestrians probably thought I was drunk. At 11.30? Ah those were the days! Seriously though in the afterlife we humble hacks will need all the friends we can get and a Pope is a useful guy to have on your side.

I don’t believe in coincidences. In January the former Supreme Leader announced to Urbi et Orbi on GBC that he was standing down as leader of the opposition. Whilst he’d still be collecting his MP’s pay we’d hardly hear a whisper from him. Then just weeks later Pope Benedict XVI announces in Latin that he is off too. The Pope will retire to the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo when he leaves office before moving into a renovated monastery used by cloistered nuns for “a period of prayer and reflection”. Sorry but that is too much of a coincidence.

Since the former Supreme Leader lost the last election the expectancy has been he’d be off to a top job. Little did we realise! The word on the legal circuit is for the past months he has been working out of a small office, little bigger than a monk’s cell, surviving on handouts in the form of work from the Feethams. Don’t sneer – there is nothing the Vatican cardinals like more than a humble hermit.

So what are Caruana’s qualifications for the job of Pope? Numerous as it happens. He certainly is a devout Catholic, has a tendency to wrap himself in the Shroud of Turin, I believe he is even a Papal Knight or some such.

The new Pope will be the Supreme Leader of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Caruana has been Supreme Leader of his chosen people from time immemorial.

The Pope is infallible. Ditto Caruana. Indeed he can even make two opposing statements to two different audiences and convince you there is no contradiction. My God, this man was made for the Vatican corridors of power.

Now for my trump card. Matthew 16.18, in the Douay-Rheims Bible of course, states – “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Peter, rock (of Gibraltar)? Come on the former Supreme Leader is a Papal Shoe-in!

I decided to check the betting on who would be the new Pope and headed to Paddy Power. If an Irish Catholic doesn’t know what’s going on nobody does. After the Cardinals comes the atheist Richard Dawkins at 666/1 – the sign of the anti-Christ. Singer Bono clocks in at 1000/1 but he’d need a bigger stage than the Vatican apartment’s balcony. Finally there is Fr Dougal Maguire at 1000/1, which are generous odds when you consider he is a TV character. Given there are more on-line bookmakers on the Rock that you can shake a bishop’s crook at how about some odds for Peter Richard Caruana?

Ah, but you may say, there is one fatal flaw in my argument, the former Supreme Leader is not a cardinal, he’s not even a priest!

True but believe me it doesn’t matter. As I sat up in bed last night sipping my cocoa I read through my well thumbed copy of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. Codex Iuris Canonici. Required reading in my house as I am sure it is in yours. Technically, any Catholic male who has reached the age of reason, is not a heretic, is not in schism, and is not “notorious” for simony can be elected pope. Indeed it is even technically possible for the cardinals to elect a non-Catholic male, if they had reason to believe that he would immediately convert to Catholicism. So the field is wide open.

P.S. Bookies wishing to take my crisp ten pound note for “Caruana for Pope” please send me their odds.

Pax vobiscum.