Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Countdown to the Conclave, Day 8: Unexpected High Humor at the Conclave

By Deal W. Hudson & Deacon Keith Fournier
March 6th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

If you've ever been in a room with group of cardinals, you will know that their attire is quite striking and distinctive. But since there are 154 cardinals attending the conclave (remembering only 115 are eligible to vote) it's not inconceivable that a determined impostor could hide himself in the crowd, and did!

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - As the Obama White House found out during its first state dinner, if someone is determined to crash a party, there is no fence high enough to keep them out. However, the Swiss Guard today are not quite as chagrined as was the Secret Service -- the skilled impostor was caught before he got through the door to the cardinal's meeting in Paul VI Hall.

The cardinals were standing around in groups having their pictures taken together, informally, when someone noticed that one of them was not dressed quite correctly: His cassock and crucifix were too short. And as it turns out his purple sash was merely a scarf, and even worse, he sported a black fedora in place of a skullcap.

If you've ever been in a room with a group of cardinals, you will know that their attire is quite striking and distinctive. But since there are 154 cardinals attending the conclave (remembering only 115 are eligible to vote) it's not inconceivable how a determined impostor could hide himself in the crowd, and did!

His name is Ralph Napiersi who identified himself to reporters as "Basilius," meaning Greek for royalty, -- Saturday Night Live will undoubtedly have some fun with this! -- and a member of the non-existent "Italian Orthodox Church" (no irony intended!).  Napierski did, it has been reported,past one of the Swiss Guard's check points, which will only add to the cardinals growing concern about Vatican security.

It gets better: On his web site, Napierski describes himself as a bishop of Corpus Dei, an overly obvious play on Opus Dei, whose crest contains the motto, "Horse of Christ."  (Again, SNL is going to be all over this!)  He claims apostolic succession through Pierre Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc (1897-1984), and has all the fake documents to prove it.

The web site abounds in misspellings -- "descipleship" for discipleship, "broshure" for brochure, "believes" for beliefs, "eleminate" for eliminate, etc. There is, however, one moment of truth on the web site, where he declares:

"And Bishop Ralph Napierski has been an internet activist and hacker for information freedom and information security."

The strangest, and saddest, aspect of the story was reported by the International Business Times:

"Before being kicked out of the conference, he told reporters that he believed Catholic bishops were wrong to move priests who had been accused of sexual abuse around various parishes, prompting the Daily Mail to describe him as a 'child abuse protester.'"

Napierski runs another blog promoting what he calls "Jesus Yoga" that makes "available the hidden techniques of christian meditation practices that already have been in use by Jesus and the apostles and have been passed on from generation to generation without beeing [sic] available completly [sic] to the public."

Salvation and Enlightenment can be achieved in following his 12-step program, which will be described in his upcoming "Jesus Yoga Books."

Let's hope the cardinals are less alarmed by the unexpected visit of "Bishop Napierski" than provoked to laugher. L'affair Napierski can serve as a humorous reminder of the humanity we all share, even the princes of the Church, and our often comic attempts to achieve importance and earn "fifteen minutes of fame."

But Napierski may have earned far more than Andy Warhol's prescribed fifteen minutes, because in our 24-hour cable news cycle, which demands to be fed, the Bishop of the "Italian Orthodox Church" and proponent of "Jesus Yoga" will be too enticing to resist. 

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)