Church leaders dissatisfied with Pope Benedict XVI’s highly conservative papacy are reportedly already lining up potential successors. “He’s no spring chicken,” observes Bishop Jim Bazonga, a prominent member of the Roman Catholic Church’s liberal wing. “He could pop his clogs at any time – we need to be prepared!” Perhaps most surprisingly, Bazonga and his colleagues are currently favouring an outside candidate from a breakaway Catholic sect – the West Midlands Catholic Church. “Their thinking is that this sect’s leader will be untainted by the Benedict regime,” explains top theologian Billy Wotters. “He would represent a clean slate and an unprecedented opportunity to modernise the Church with fresh ideas.” The West Midlands Catholic Church leader, Adrian Clapster, a second hand car dealer and self-styled Pope of Birmingham, would represent a radical change of direction for the Vatican if he were to become its leader. He has already courted controversy with his beatification programme, which included making the late Princess Diana the patron saint of adulterers and Gary Glitter patron saint of child pornographers. However, he has built his reputation upon the miracles he has regularly performed on his Stourbridge car lot. Mrs Sarah Hindside, a parishioner, recalls: “I once took back a Vauxhall Astra I’d bought from him, it was clearly on its last legs and I was preparing to complain to Trading Standards. But Pope Adrian opened the bonnet and laid his hands on the engine and cried out to the heavens ‘Lord, I implore you to restore this good woman’s vehicle to life – heal its worn pistons and frayed hoses and make it whole again!’ Incredibly, it then started first time and ran perfectly for another six days!” His Holiness has apparently been happy to keep Mrs Hindside’s vehicle going through regular ‘services’ at his ‘auto-temple’, for a modest contribution of £20 an hour to church funds. Many of his congregation have similar stories to tell. “He’s already converted hundreds to the Christian way with his ‘roadside services’, in which he ministers to sick and fallen vehicles at the kerb,” says Wotters. “Many still speak in hushed tones about his ‘resurrection’ of a 1973 Austin Allegro suffering from a cracked sump, blown radiator and broken rear axle – not only did it get its owner home, but it did another two thousand miles before she traded it in for six year old Chrysler Neon at Pope Adrian’s ‘auto-temple!”

Vatican officials apparently also been impressed by Clapster’s refusal to turn way sinners from his ministry. “Even those who abuse their vehicles, missing services, driving on bald tyres and burning oil, are welcome at his temple,” explains Wotters. “He’s more than happy to take their clunkers as part-exchanges for his own, very reasonably priced, second-hand motors. Most of them are quickly converted to the West Midlands Catholic way after test driving one of his cars and keep on coming back. At a time when church attendances are declining, his temple is teeming with visitors, particularly at weekends – the mainstream church could learn a lot from his approach!”
Concerns over the mental state of the octogenarian Pope Benedict XVI could see Bishop Bazonga and his supporters making a move to replace the Vatican’s present incumbent within weeks. “He’s clearly losing it, “ claims a source close to the Bishop. “There’s no way we can have someone mentally incompetent in charge of the Christian faith – it will be absolute chaos! We’ll have no choice but to remove him from office on health grounds.” Much of the current disquiet stems from the Pontiff’s recent performance when, in an apparent state of confusion, he publicly greeted US President Barack Obama and his family stark naked, save for his mitre and crook. President Obama, assuming this was normal Papal protocol, began to take his own clothes off until stopped by the First Lady. Vatican officials rushed to the Pope and tried to cover his nakedness with a tapestry hastily pulled from the wall. However, the Pope angrily beat them off with his crook, reportedly cursing at them in German. He was eventually restrained by six members of the Swiss Guard and dragged off to his private quarters. Mrs Obama later remarked that His Holiness’ crook was remarkably long and stiff for a man of his age. Officials moved quickly to try and blame the incident on medication the Pope was taking for a cold, although a later statement claimed that the Pontiff was actually celebrating the red letter day of St Onan of Chichi, Patron Saint of Naturists. Only twenty four hours earlier, the Pope had been involved in another embarrassing incident – worshippers in St Peter’s Square, awaiting his regular Sunday address, were amazed to see the Pope stroll out onto his balcony, unzip his flies, and urinate over the balustrade. He then zipped up his flies and broke wind loudly, before strolling back inside, apparently oblivious to the stunned crowd below. Some eyewitnesses to the two events have claimed that the Pope appeared to be circumcised – a fact vehemently denied by the Vatican. “Look, these are all minor incidents,” declared a spokesman. “It’s not as if he’s done anything really dangerous or controversial. Like invading Poland.”

Billy Wotters recently caught up with Pope Adrian at the Birmingham Vatican – a modest semi-detached house in Stourbridge he shares with his ‘Mother Superior’, Brenda, and their two children – where he told the theologian that he was looking forward to the challenge of modernising the Roman Catholic Church. In particular, Pope Adrian believes that the church should become more involved in the media. “The Pope should have a regular TV show on which he performs minor miracles and ordinary worshippers come on to show their stigmata- it’d be an incredible ratings winner”. He also believes that the church could generate more funds by endorsing suitable products and selling some of its services. “Its a great brand image”, he enthused. “Instantly recognised throughout the world and inextricably linked with Ultimate Good!” Whilst dismissing allegations that he plans to turn St Peters Square into a giant used car lot, Pope Adrian has confirmed that, if he was to be appointed Bishop of Rome, he would continue to pursue his creed of ‘Christ through car sales’. “It’s a practical way of demonstrating to people the benefits of following the Christian path – once they’ve experienced the reliability and value of a car blessed by God they’ll never want to drive anything else,” he told Wotters. “I want to see rows of quality pre-owned motors on the forecourt of every Catholic church – all with ‘Jesus the Spiritual Mechanic’ tax disc holders and Virgin Mary air fresheners thrown in. Maybe offer a free ordination on the first service, as well.” Whilst many Catholics might baulk at the idea of a used car salesman becoming their spiritual leader, Wotters believes that stranger things have already happened at the Vatican. “Let’s not forget the case of Pope Simon XXIV – when he died in 1532 it was discovered that he was a horse,” he muses. “At least Pope Adrian would bring some solid spiritual values back to the Church, not to mention a fantastic vehicle breakdown and recovery service for Catholic motorists.”