Fake cleric mingles among cardinals
Fake bishop Ralph Napierski (L) poses with cardinal Sergio Sebiastiana as the cardinal arrives for talks ahead of a conclave to elect a new pope at the Vatican yesterday. Photograph: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images
If the job of deciding who among them should be the next pope was not difficult enough, cardinals gathering yesterday had an additional, unlikely, face to chose from, as an imposter managed to breach Vatican security.
A fake Catholic bishop tried to join cardinals meeting to begin the task of identifying a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.
Self-appointed bishop Ralph Napierski managed to pass the first level of Swiss Guards and stand outside smiling for photographs amongst the cardinals.
Wearing a bishop-like outfit he posed and shook hands with Italian cardinal Sergio Sebiastiana. Cardinal Sebiastiana is president emeritus of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
His outfit was not fully convincing as his bishop’s sash turned out to be a purple scarf, his cassock was too short, while his hat was a fedora-style black one.
His flawed disguise meant he did not get to attend the meeting of cardinals in the Vatican's Synod Hall and was apprehended by the Swiss Guards. The Vatican said all those sitting at yesterday's meeting were real Cardinals.
Ralph Napierski’s blog claims that he is the founder of a fictional Catholic order called “Corpus Dei” which promotes “Jesus yoga”.
The order reveals “the ancient hidden spiritual practices” of Christian medication based on techniques “perfected” by Jesus, he writes on his blog.
The order's website claims that he is a “Catholic Bishop under the primacy of Pope Benedict XVI and he is in union with the Roman Catholic Church.”
“Bishop Ralph Napierski comes out of a tribe of the Roman Catholic Church that is fighting the heresy and false movements inside the Roman Catholic Church,” it says.
He also claims to have invented “a system to enable persons to control computers with the power of thoughts."
Yesterday 103 of the 115 cardinal electors who will vote in the Sistine Chapel met for the first of their pre-conclave “Congregazioni Generali”.