Monday, March 04, 2013

In the Footsteps of Father Guido Sarducci ...

... comes Bishop Ralph Napierski.

USA Today dubs Napierski an "impostor ... with an entourage of fake clerics," who tried to get into the Sistine Chapel to hobnob with cardinals planning the election of the Holy Roman Catholic Church's next pope.

According to the report, Napierski claims to represent Corpus Dei, which the paper describes as a "non-existent Catholic organization," but which has a web site (identifying it as a "Catholic Order after episcopal law by Bishop Ralph Napierski").

Also per USA Today, the Italian Orthodox Church (which Napierski apparently claims to be a bishop in) "does not exist," but Wikipedia begs to differ:

The Italo-Byzantine Monastery of St. Mary of Grottaferrata, 20 kilometers south of Rome, was founded by St. Nilus of Rossano in 1004, fifty years before the division between the Catholic and the Orthodox Church and remains to this day an enclave of Byzantine tradition under the Roman jurisdiction. The immigration of Albanian Orthodox to Southern Italy contributed to a brief revival of Orthodoxy in the fifteenth century, but soon the Albanians were assimilated under the Roman Church, which preserved their autonomy by creating the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church, of Byzantine Rite.

The Italian Orthodox Church went underground, and the Bishops used to move to avoid persecution. Consequently, they were referred to as bishops residing in a given place, rather than as diocesan territorial overseers. However, due to its small numbers and persistent persecution by their Roman Catholic brothers, the Italian Orthodox Church became almost extinct and there were times when gaps existed in the hierarchy. Due to the persecution, comes the belief that there were many married bishops ordained secretly, although this practice was not endorsed by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Nevertheless, the Church has survived to this day and is experiencing a period of revitalization.

And I have to give Napierski high marks for his updating of the clerical vestments. A fedora makes a lot more fashion sense than a skull cap or a mitre, and that magenta sash is simply fabulous.

None of which is to dispute the fairly obvious fact Napierski  in not an official of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, with the requisite credentials to participate in its papal selection conclave, but as an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church (and a Litterarum Doctor per same), I do wish that the "mainstream media" would be a little less loose with its declarations concerning who may or may not be "real" clergy and what religious institutions might or might not exist.

I mean, if Pat Robertson or John Hagee had shown up at the Sistine Chapel trying to horn their way in, they'd likewise have found themselves escorted out, but nobody would have denied that they were clergy or that their churches existed, right?

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