Paris: Ah, si. Hello? Buena tarde, your Holiness. Thank you for ….
Vatican: Bona sera, your Eminence. Or bonne après-midi, if you prefer. His Holiness regrets he cannot come to the telephone at this moment. He asked me to attend to you personally.
Paris: Oh. I see. The thing is …. I need to speak to His Holiness privately. The matter is …. personal … and private.
Vatican: I am aware of your situation, your Eminence. It is hardly private anymore, is it?
Vatican: Are you alright, your Eminence?
Paris: (Sigh) Yes. Please excuse me. It’s true, the matter is all over the French media.
Vatican: And no doubt on its way around the world by now.
Paris: Oui, je suis desolé. So ashamed.
Vatican: You wished to discuss the matter with his Holiness? He has been made aware of it even before he received your letter, offering your resignation. His Holiness has empowered me to respond to you – in confidence, of course.
Paris: Yes, I was wondering ….. whether a confession … public apology …. without needing to resign …
Vatican: I don’t think that would work, your Eminence.
Paris: Why not? Isn’t our faith centred on forgiveness?
Vatican: Well, forgive me, your Eminence but in your decades of service to the Church ..
Paris: Yes, decades! And this is in the past – nine years ago!
Vatican: As I was saying, your Eminence, in your decades of service to the Church …. how many public transgressions of a moral nature have you forgiven?
Paris: Is not the flesh weak? Am I to be punished for experiencing love? Is our faith not about love?
Vatican: Please, your eminence. We have all taken a vow of chastity, of celibacy. We can leave the Church anytime we wish if we feel that is too much. And besides, a great many of your priests have hardly been restraining themselves …..
Paris: My sin was not like theirs, this was a woman, adult and willing and not in an institution!
Vatican: Quite. But for all those clerics and religious orders to have got away with it for so long? Over 200,000 victims of 3,000 priests over the last 70 years in France, according to an investigation. They must have had some help at the top, don’t you think, your Eminence? I am sure the French public at least will be asking themselves that question. And last year His Holiness accepted the resignation of a French Cardinal! No, no, your Eminence. His Holiness accepts your resignation. And wishes you well, of course.
Paris: I …. all because I fell in love, like a human being.
Vatican: No, pardon me, your Eminence. Because you got caught.
(Click! – but somehow the connection remains unbroken. The ex-Archbishop hears, in Italian which he knows reasonably well:
“Well, Aupetit’s appetite …..”
and several sniggers. Then the line finally does go dead.)