Plans are said to be well underway at the Vatican to mark the departure today of Pope Benedict XVI with what Cardinals are excitedly describing as ‘an enormous piss-up’.
‘We’ll start early in the afternoon at the Vatican with several bottles of communion wine and a buffet of wafer biscuits,’ said 87-year-old Cardinal Giovanni Cappa. ‘Then we’ll move on to an exclusive nightclub just round the corner and really get stuck into some Jägerbombs. The last time we arranged a leaving do for a Pope was in 1414 so we’re a little out of practice, but priests’ hobbies haven’t changed much since then, and none of us have wives so there’s no problem getting a pass for the night.’
The main part of the evening will be spent at the Vatican’s favourite nightspot, The Chorister’s Crotchet, where a table has been specially reserved. ‘The Pope and his posse of Cardinals will be entertained by our finest young choirboys dancing and draping themselves seductively across replica altars,’ said club promoter, Roberto di Lorenzo. ‘They might occasionally glimpse a bit of ankle flashed from beneath a cassock, but if they want to see more or adjourn to the vestry for a private dance, they’ll have to slip a €20 note onto the choirboy’s collection tray just like everyone else.’
Before the evening gets underway the Pope is expected to finish his official duties by deleting all his emails and setting up his out-of-office message insisting he knew nothing about child abuse allegations. He’ll then be presented with a ‘Sorry-you’re-leaving’ card which all the Cardinals have signed, some Marks and Spencer vouchers from a Vatican whip-around, and jokingly teased about the time on 1 April when his Cardinals presented him with a draft speech advocating women priests, gay marriage and the use of contraceptives.
Once the celebrations are over, Cardinals will go into conclave to pray and seek divine guidance on who the next Pope should be. ‘It’s actually just some quiet time for us to ride out our hangovers,’ said Cardinal Cappa. ‘We do pray, though. I usually spend most of the next day on the big white telephone to God.’