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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Forgive me, Father, for I am about to sin. Wallop!

Catholic priests and nuns have found a new pastime in Italy to while away the hours of boredom. They kick the shit out of a restaurateur. Great fun.

This happened. It actually happened. Two nuns and a priest were at it, beating the bejabus out of Antonio Esposito and thrashing him with a chair in a scene that resembled something out of a Wild West movie.

The story’s covered in the Scotsman (among others, no doubt) and, if it weren’t for the poor chap’s injuries, would make hilarious reading.

The brawl happened at Rutino, near Salerno in the south of Italy, at a restaurant which is leased by a local religious order to the victim, Antonio Esposito.

The building the restaurant is in is owned by the Disciples of St Teresa and Baby Jesus – to which the priest and nuns belong.

Antonio Tata, the local police chief, said: “Passers-by had called us because the three attackers were turning over tables and chairs and smashing plates as well as attacking the owner – it was like a scene from a wild west saloon.”

Disciples of St Teresa and Baby Jesus! Laugh? I nearly did. You couldn’t make it up.

Just as hilarious is how Vatican staff – up to the level of Cardinal (probably equivalent to a lieutenant general) – are now to carry swipe cards so the authorities there under the ex-Nazi, F├╝hrer Joseph Ratzinger, can keep an eye on their timekeeping. He’s known to be a bit of an authoritarian in these matters, although it’s said he didn’t himself come up with the idea for the cards.

What makes it so funny is that the Vatican is so not necessary, except to those who languish in its largesse while many of those who give for its upkeep are largely living in poverty. And just what do most of them do, for goodness’ sake?

A former pope, John XXIII, was once asked by a journalist how many people worked at the Vatican. He famously remarked, “Oh, no more than half of them.”

They do humour. Some of them. Some of the time. They could teach Muslims a thing or two.

Well, it may keep these clergypeople at their desks longer so they don’t have time to assemble at the holy water cooler and exchange ribald jokes about the Immaculate Conception.

And it may keep more of them away from children.

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