The Vatican has been rocked by a ‘Cash for Canonisation’ scandal, in which it is alleged that various prominent public figures from the worlds of business, politics and entertainment, have paid money into secret accounts to ensure their rapid elevation to sainthood. The affair came to light when it was revealed that the late Pope John Paul II had been ‘fast tracked’ for sainthood by his successor Pope Benedict XVI, drawing protests from the families of candidates who had been waiting for years, sometimes decades, for canonisation. “What the hell does he need ‘fast tracking’ for? He was the Pope for God’s sake! If he isn’t guaranteed a good seat in heaven, who is?” says an infuriated Sammy Peedie of Milwaukee, whose financier father Ronald has been awaiting the completion of his canonisation for seven years. “Listen, we paid good money to that Cardinal for express processing – but now the bastards are saying that they are having trouble coming up with the requisite number of verified miracles! What a crock of shit – they’re just trying to scam some more cash off of us!” The Vatican official at the centre of the allegations, Cardinal Pietro Mingo, has denied any wrong doing. “If individuals or their families wish to make charitable donations to the Church, that is their business. But at least three instances of miraculous occurrences connected to the candidate still must be verified, and this can be a time consuming process,” asserts Mingo, who heads the commission overseeing canonisations. “I can confirm that in Ronald Peedie’s case, apart from that miraculous appearance of a very generous cash donation several days after his death, we are finding it difficult to identify anything else remotely resembling a miracle in his life!” Mingo is adamant that the ‘cash donation’ – which suddenly appeared in a brown envelope on his doorstep one morning – was a bribe, despite it being used to repair the roof of his Florence villa. “This was an entirely appropriate use of the money – that house is an official Church residence and is of great historic significance,” he explains. “According to local legend several of the Borgia Pope’s illegitimate children were conceived there!” He is adamant that the fact that improvements to the villa, which have included a new roof, terrace, air conditioning and a swimming pool have coincided significant increase in the number of canonisations is purely accidental. “It is very difficult for a poor clergyman like myself to keep up with all the repairs and renovations it needs – I just pray to the Lord to provide me with the means necessary and he provides; quite often in the form of brown envelopes stuffed full of cash,” he says. “Only the other day I was explaining to Mr Peedie how I was praying for a new driveway and how I had no doubt that – through some mysterious agency – it would eventually be provided!”
Not surprisingly, Sammy Peedie remains unsatisfied by Mingo’s claims, professing to being astounded that Vatican investigators are unable to identify sufficient miraculous episodes connected with his late father. “Jesus Christ! The fact that he didn’t do jail time for that junk bond scam back in the eighties which left thousands of investors destitute was a miracle in itself,” he says. “Not to mention all the taxes he successfully evaded and those allegations of bribing Congressmen the Feds could never pin on him!” By contrast, Peedie claims, the Church has canonised many other highly dubious candidates on the basis of very questionable miracles. Indeed, many critics have already queried the late Pope John Paul II’s suitability for canonisation, calling into question whether miraculously starting a Romanian man’s broken down car in 1992, or finding a distraught old Venetian lady’s reading glasses in 2001, truly constitute miracles. “These are bona fide miracles – with multiple witnesses – involving a divine intervention through the agency of the Holy Father, John Paul,” says Mingo. “That car hadn’t run for weeks and only started after the owner placed a picture of His Holiness on the bonnet in an act of desperation when he had to get his pregnant wife to hospital! The business with the reading glasses was even more amazing – this poor eighty-six year old woman had misplaced them; despite searching her house high and low, they were nowhere to be found! Finally, she called upon the Pope for help – that night he came to her in a dream and told her that her glasses had fallen down the back of the sofa! When she checked – there they were!” Whilst trivial, these incidents are at least not as sordid as some of the ‘miracles’ which have been used to elevate some other candidates to sainthood. “John Thrumster, a nineteenth century village cleric, was probably the most notorious example,” claims Dr Kenneth Yarble of Stockport College of Divinity. “The third miracle which gained him sainthood only a few years after his death was based on the testimony of one of his former choirboys, who claimed that the Reverend Father had cured his impotence in the vestry one afternoon after choir practice, by gently rubbing his member with one hand, whilst cupping his scrotum with the other. Apparently his penis stiffened and rose erect for the first time ever – ‘Thrusting heavenward to celebrate the glory of God’, the boy claimed.” Thrumster was consequently canonised as St John Thomas the Priapic, patron saint of sex offenders. “The fact that his family made a large donation to the local Bishop’s charity for young boys at around the same time was, apparently, mere coincidence,” says Yarble.
Whilst Mingo and the Roman Catholic hierachy continue to deny that canonisations are being bought for cash, a highly placed source in the Vatican has told The Sleaze that the practice is, in fact, widespread. “It’s an easy source of ready cash. There’s no harm in it, really – all you have to do is look into someone’s life and talk up some of the good things they did to make them sound a bit miraculous! Everyone’s happy,” he says. “In most cases that isn’t difficult – even the sleaziest of characters have usually done something good in their lives. Unfortunately, this Peedie guy turned out to be such a total bastard that we’ve had to keep stalling the family – We’re beginning to suspect that he’s a hopeless case!” Sometimes it isn’t cash which results in ‘fast-tracking’ for a candidate. “John Paul II’s fast-tracking was his successor’s personal initiative,” explains our source. “With that Hitler Youth business in his past, he figures he needs all the influential friends he can get at God’s right hand for when his time comes!” The scandal looks set to spread to other Christian faiths, with rumours that the Church of England – worried that the Roman Catholics are flooding the hereafter with their own saints to ensure a Catholic-controlled heaven – is preparing to offer sainthoods to the living in exchange for donations. “I can see where they’re coming from,” muses our Vatican source. “Think how many votes a real halo might bring the likes of Blair or Cameron come election time?”