Ratzenberger elected new Pope Ratzenberger elected new Pope

By our man with his finger on the jugular of America, Dale Petrie

American born sitcom actor, John Ratzenberger, best known for his portrayal of know-it-all Cliff Clavin on the NBC sitcom 'Cheers', has been elected the 256th pope of the Catholic Church, after a two day Conclave of Cardinals met in the Vatican City to select a successor to the recently deceased Pope John Paul II

Ratzenberger’s first order as new pope was to select the name by which he will be identified in the chronicles of the Catholic Church. In front of an exuberant crowd of 10,000 Bostonians chanting 'Cliffie! Cliffie!' and some 8,000 choirboys angrily shouting 'Stiffy! Stiffy! the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Roger Mee, officially declared Ratzenberger Pope Clavin I.

Ratzenberger’s appointment comes as a huge shock to most Catholics, popewatchers, and millions of people across the world who had money riding in pope office pools. According to a bloke in a flat cap who likes a flutter on the gee gees, Cardinal John Ratzinger was the Vatican favourite at 3-1. The liberal, pot-smoking German was considered so much of a sure thing that he’d already selected his own Papal name—Benedict XVI. Unfortunately, due to an administrative error on the ballot typed up by a Vatican secretary with extraordinarily long fingernails, Ratzinger’s name was misspelled as Ratzenberger, and as Cardinal Bernard Sin explained: “Both names look very German. I have a confession to make. Most of the Cardinals left their specs at home that day so we didn’t know who on God’s green earth we were electing. After all, democracies aren’t perfect. Just look at America.”

The unfortunate mix-up led to ugly scenes in the Vatican, when members of the Conclave were summoned to inform Benedict that he’d been defeated by a New England mailman who still lives with his mum. The enraged Kraut is alleged to have flown into hysterics, reportedly screaming at his fellow birds: “Vot is ze vorld komingk to ven a German cannot kontrol ze Church?”

But the representatives of the Conclave were resolute in their decision, as Catholic dogma allows for only the strictest interpretation of the ballots. Only the man whose name is selected on two thirds or more of all the ballots cast is eligible to be named pope. As such, Benedict was forced to hand over his custom-made, white pointy hat and the keys to the popemobile to the man known the world over as Cliff Clavin. As a consolation, Benedict was told that should Clavin, who turned fifty-eight, just four days after John Paul’s death, die in his lifetime, or for any other reason be unable to fulfill his duties as the representative of God on earth, the popedom would be his.

However, such an event is considered extremely unlikely, having only occurred once in the Church’s 2,000 year history in 858, when 'Pope Joan'—a drop-dead gorgeous Englishwoman who disguised herself as a monk to be with her cleric boyfriend—went to Rome. There, she so impressed the Cardinals with her credentials that she was elected pope. Unfortunately, her secret was discovered when a bouncing bun popped out of her bulging oven during a procession, whereupon she was unfrocked—or possibly stripped to her undies—before being soundly scourged, racked, broken on the wheel and bricked up alive with her nipper in a nearby convent wall.

When Utterpants finally caught up with ex-pope Benedict over a hot bratwurst and cappuccino in a Munich Bierkeller once frequented by an Austrian corporal, he had only this comment to make:
“Gott in Himmel! Vot a verdammt travesty! Is zis vot I kissed so many Bishop's rings for over all zese years? Vot vill zey do next? Name zat George Wendt Cardinal Norm? Don't zey know I'm German? I could hef you all melted down into soap!”

Although the world’s Cardinals agreed that Benedict’s less than sporting response to his dismissal was rather undignified, they have forgiven him on the grounds that such unpopely behaviour is not sufficient cause for stripping a Cardinal of his feathers. According to sources close to—and often directly underneath—previous popes, dismissal is one of only three things that truly pisses off a pope (and Vatican experts insist that child molestation is not one of them). Now that Cliff Clavin is the Pope, having unleashed dogs on rural routes is destined to become a mortal sin. The only hope to restore the Popedom to Benedict is for the vote count to be overturned, forcing a new election; a scenario being pursued by some black Cardinals who claim the elections 'butterfly ballots' confused many into voting for a white man by mistake.

Pope Clavin IAt we went to press, Pope Clavin was en route to the Vatican to assume his role as God’s Sole Representative on Earth. When asked for a comment, Clavin told Utterpants in a thick Bostonian accent: “You know it’s kind of a strange coincidence that a little misspelling would cause me to become the pope. It’s a little known fact that the word Pope comes from the Latin ‘Popus Majoris,’ or enormous father. Over the years that particular piece of nomenclature was shortened to ‘Pop’ which is what we call our fathers nowadays. The pope being a ‘father,’ ipso facto, when the first pope was appointed—I believe in 1783—someone gave him the nickname ‘Pop.’ When that particular name was first published in an Italian newspaper, it turned out the reporter was drunk and misspelled ‘pop,’ putting an ‘e’ on the end, and thus the term ‘pope’ was born. Now here we are, the second time a misspelling has altered the very destiny of the Catholic Church.”

Clavin, the first ever American pope, has expressed no interest in being anything more than a figurehead, letting the Cardinals handle all Church business, including approximately 27,469 outstanding charges of child abuse. Ratzenberger's heart still belongs to acting, and he’s already pitched a reality TV show to the Fox network, to be called appropriately enough, 'American Pope'—or possibly 'Pop', we're not sure which, as the typist who sent the email to us appears to have extraordinarily long fingernails. Some critics have already dismissed Ratzenberger's idea as a last ditch attempt to revive his failing career before he and Pat Boone carry out the suicide pact they’d agreed on last year. When we tactfully informed the new pope that suicide was in contravention of the official position of the church regarding the sanctity of human life, Clavin only chuckled, “What do I care? I’m not even a Catholic.”

Read our previous report on the race for the Chair of St Peter

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Story © Dale Petrie 2005. Pictures and construction © utterpants.co.uk /210405

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