Thursday, July 28, 2005

Funny story!

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Notice what Papa has to say about the Irish, Shannon! ;)

At the launch [of Cardinal Ratzinger's memoirs, entitled Milestones,] I had the privilege of meeting His Eminence the then Cardinal Ratzinger. It was with a group of other reporters and we all stood milling around the silver haired fox of the Vatican. The conversation was fairly cordial until one of the reporters made a major faux pas. The LA Times' Vatican correspondent being your typical Californian (in other words a complete dolt and total jackass!) asked His Eminence, "So when do you think the current Holy Father will die?". There was a long pause in the conversation. Finally His Eminence spoke in all graciousness, "His Holiness will be around for a long time to come." Not wanting to be left behind in lack of class, the LA Times correspondent went on, "Who do you think will be the next Pope?". Another pause in conversation. His Eminence then shrugged and said, "It's in God's hands."

However at that moment, many of the reporters started interjecting the names of various Cardinals on who they thought would be the next Pope. And it was no doubt the warm bubbly effervescent effect of that delicious Italian red sparkling wine (to say nothing of the effect of that dry white Rhine wine) we were served but I suddenly blurted out, "Maybe the next Pope will be you, your Eminence."

This led to an even longer pause in conversation as well as expressions of shock (not to mention utter horror!) on the faces of my fellow journalists. Cardinal Ratzinger looked at me with much the same sort of expression that Christ must have had on His face when He told Peter, "Get thee behind me, Satan." Finally His Eminence spoke with a bit of a twinkle in his eyes, "There's not much chance of that happening."

"Better a copy of your book, a MILESTONE around your neck than the Papacy then?" I made a bad pun of a Scriptural expression.

The Cardinal smiled an amused smile, "You could say that I suppose. But not much chance of me becoming the next Pope."

I'm not sure whether it was the effect of the sparkling Italian or the dry Rhine (or a possible longing for Guiness) but I then blurted out, "Wanna bet on it?".

This led to the longest pause of all and the eyes of the world's press corps were upon me to say nothing of the eyes of the man who had been dubbed the Grand Inquisitor.

Finally His Eminence laughed, "Well, you know the Church frowns upon gambling but seeing as how you're Irish and the Church at some point in Her history must have granted the Irish a special dispensation to gamble since your people gamble so much, I'm willing to make an exception in your case. What's the wager?".

"How about a premiere bottle of the best Bushmills whiskey?" I replied thinking that His Eminence was joking.

"Done," he said and we shook hands on it.

Suffice it to say that recently, the gentleman reporter received a package from the Vatican that included a bottle of Old Bushmills Irish Whiskey and a note that said simply: "His Holiness remembers the bet."

You can read more about that part of the story at the reporter's blog, An Irishman In Moscow. I found the link to the story at Against the Grain.

1 comment:

  1. Naw, he looks so cute being all happy in the chair! :)