The Vatican emailed me the other day and asked what should be done with the ‘bishop of bling’ –you know, Franz-Peter Tebartz van Elst, the ex-bishop of Limburg, who was forced to resign after spending some £26m on his official residence.
The magnificence of his renovations included £1.8m on a marble courtyard complete with ‘holy water’ fountains, £622,000 on sculpted gardens, £20,000 on a conference table and a trifling 12 grand on a bathtub.
He was indeed the biggest cheese in Limburg, an area famous for Limburger cheese which, if not tackled shortly after purchase, stinks the house out. Something it has in common with the good bishop’s expenditure on his palatial residence.
It’s not generally known, but the Vatican often consults me on matters of ecclesiastical discipline and indeed acted swiftly to apply the boot to the bishop’s backside. What else they wanted from me was suggestions as what to do with the man.
Well, naturally I had the answer. Move him out to Sydney in far-off Australia and give him the responsibility of sorting out the highly irreligious Order of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
My Australian correspondent tells me that the Sisters are transvestites in drag who perform miracles of profanity at various festivals and such, usually drunk and wearing mini-habits with suspender belts and fishnet stockings.
If he can do anything with that bunch of blasphemous blodgers then his living will not have been in vain.
My favourite bishop story concerns a churchman whose name I have forgotten who earned acres of newsprint by impregnating a churchgoing lady, thus breaking his vow of chastity and the golden rule about not besmirching one’s own doorstep.
It was decided that a period of penitence was in order, so he was shipped off pronto to the faraway Phillipines where the local big cheese rejoiced in the name and title of bishop Syn. He was to stay there until the heat died down.
All the above is true. What cannot be confirmed is the story that when he attended confession he got his lines completely crossed and said: “Forgive me Syn for I have fathered.”
Sources tell me that this priceless punchline was thought-up by trainee priests at a well-known Dublin seminary. If this be the case my faith in the fathers of the future is renewed and my reverence of Irish wit confirmed.