Papalgate: Veg and the Vatican image

Papalgate: Veg and the Vatican

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Whether it’s a comment about a bigoted woman, or an insult about female referees, the ‘microphone gaffe’ has been the Achilles heel of many a politician or celebrity. You think you’re off the air, and your microphone muted, and the next thing you know, your private comments are being broadcast to the world. But no faux pas has quite shocked the Catholic community like that of Pope Benedict XVI.

In Roman Catholic dogma, an ‘ex cathedra’ statement is believed to invoke papal infallibility, and is usually restricted to clarifying the most crucial tenets of Catholic faith. But yesterday, in an unfortunate turn of events, which many are already labeling ‘papalgate’, the pontiff failed to officially indicate that he had finished speaking ‘ex cathedra’ and proceeded to have a casual conversation with a cardinal.
 
In the course of the conversation, which is thought to have lasted no longer than four minutes, Pope Benedict made a number of casual remarks about the weather, the economy, and the Serie A Italian football league. But the most controversial was in regard to his lunch choice. When offered a side portion of green beans, he declared, “I can’t stand green beans; they are an abomination.”
 
“This is a somewhat unprecedented blunder,” admitted Dougall McGuire, a close aide to the Holy Father “but it would appear that we are required by Catholic protocol to consider all of His Holiness’ comments ‘on the record’ and thus now an official part of Catholic faith.”
 
With immediate effect, Catholics worldwide are officially expected to treat green beans as ‘an abomination’, and to refrain from eating them at all costs. It is not yet clear what punishment will be levied for consumption of beans, though sources close to the Vatican are suggesting that a first time trespass may incur a dozen Hail Marys, and repeat offenders may face ex communication.
 
Mary O’Leary, a Catholic mother from County Clare expressed her frustration; “I am seriously disappointed by this new edict. Already we are expected to forgo meat on Fridays, and this latest decree has now drastically reduced our vegetable options. Green beans were a staple of our Friday menu, and a particular favourite of my daughter. How am I supposed to tell her that we are no longer permitted to enjoy them, for fear of committing an unpardonable sin?”
 
Catholic bean-farmers have hit back at the declaration with violent protests. “How are we supposed to make an honest living,” asked John Paul O’Driscoll of the Catholic Farmers Trade Union, “when his holiness has declared our product ‘anathema’?” A black market in bean trading is expected to emerge amongst the Catholic community, with many prepared to pay well above the odds to in order to get their potassium fix. 
 
The Pope issued a statement this morning, in which he expressed his sadness at offending fans of green beans. “We have a team of aides who are responsible for ensuring that all ‘ex cathedra’ statements are officially ‘hung up’ to mitigate against this kind of disaster. At present it is not clear how this was allowed to happen. We shall embark upon a full investigation and heads will roll.” He quickly added, “Just to clarify, that was a metaphor… off the record. Heads will not literally roll.”

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