Fake Bishop Tries to Crash Pope-Choosing Party

An impostor bishop crashes important papacy-related meeting

Will one of these guys be the next pope? Stay tuned!
Will one of these guys be the next pope? Stay tuned! Wikimedia Commons

A self-appointed German bishop from the order of Corpus Dei (spoiler alert: it’s not an official order of the Catholic church) made it through Vatican security and infiltrated a meeting of cardinals preparing for the arduous process of choosing a new pope.

Ralph Napierski, the fake bishop in question, has been on the church’s radar for some time, says Time:

“He does not work with any of our institutions in any way,” a spokesman for the Berlin Catholic diocese told the German newspaper Bild Zeitung, according to Spiegel Online. The spokesman said Napierski is “self-aggrandizing,” writes angry letters and preaches about sex.

On Napierski’s website, which feature photographs of him posing as a priest with Church officials and politicians, he claims to be adept in “revealing the ancient hidden spiritual practices.” He is a proponent of “Jesus Yoga” and claims to have invented a system that allows people to control computers with their minds.

While the higher-ups of the Catholic church are unlikely to let a little Jesus Yoga distract them from the historic process of pope-selecting, the official police force of Vatican City, the Corps of Gendarmerie of Vatican City State, has acknowledged a need for tighter security during this week’s meetings:

Following Napierski’s attempted infiltration, the Vatican held discussions on improving their security procedures — which already include sweeping the Sistine Chapel for listening devices.

Monday’s meeting was the first in a series happening at the Vatican this week, during which the 103 cardinals present (out of 115 who are eligible to participate in the process) will mingle, discuss the future of the church and prepare themselves for the official Conclave, at which a new pope will be elected. Vatican officials have been working around the clock to get St. Peter’s Basilica and other important buildings ready for the process:

“It is unlikely we will set a date today,” the Rev. Thomas Rosica told reporters. “For one thing, the chapel is not yet ready.”

Workers have started installing floorboards to protect the chapel’s marble floors as well as the stove to burn the ballots and communicate the election results.

The last Conclave happened in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II and lasted for just over 24 hours.

More from Smithsonian.com:

In the Entire History of the Catholic Church, Only a Handful of Popes Have Resigned
The Pope’s Tweets Are Official Church Doctrine

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