THE VATICAN — Moments ago, just outside the Sistine Chapel, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, a member of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and a contender for the papacy, granted an exclusive interview to a solitary reporter.

In an expansive mood, Ravasi, who is only seventy years old, said, “The backbiting, innuendo, and intrigue which are currently plaguing the Curia, as accurately reported in several Italian newspapers, is causing a noticeable breakdown in the integrity of the Church of Rome.”

Ravasi continued: “This obvious dysfunctionality is totally contrary to the irenic spirit of our Lord and Savior.”

“We have been following very closely the developments in Washington DC, where the Congress and the President are locked in a game of chicken.”

“SR, you are the first to know: I have just persuaded the upcoming Conclave of Cardinals to sequester itself, taking a page from what is going on in Washington; we'll just sit and stare at each other with hostility, waiting for the other guy to give up.”

“Therefore, we will not be electing a new Pope anytime soon, which means that the day-to-day operations of the Church will be run by all the one-hundred seventeen Cardinals who are eligible to vote, so we can become even more dysfunctional than the Americans."

In Los Angeles, Archbishop Emeritus Roger Mahony, 76, a Cardinal who will be voting in the Papal Conclave, took strong issue with Cardinal Ravasi's statement. “The only dysfunctionality in the Church will occur if I am not elected as the next Pope,” Mahony said. 

However, the current Archbishop of Los Angeles, José Gomez, had a different idea. In January, Abp. Gomez relieved Mahony, his predecessor, of all his public and episcopal duties. Gomez told Tom Fox, the publisher of the leading independent Catholic newspaper, The National Catholic Reporter, that Mahony should be sequestered because of his failure to curb sexual abuse by priests during his archbishopric. But the Vatican's official spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, reminded the solitary reporter that a Cardinal outranks an Archbishop, and that Cardinal Mahony's colleagues in the College of Cardinals are looking forward to hearing Mahony's views on how the Church can continue to attract young men to the priesthood during the upcoming Papal Conclave, which is supposed to choose a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

Back in Washington, House Speaker John Boehner, a Catholic, speaking to no one in particular, blamed both the upcoming Sequester and the dysfunctionality in the Roman Catholic Church on President Obama. “The first thing I do in the morning,” Boehner said, “is to ask myself how I can best please the Tea Party by saying No to whatever President Obama is proposing.”

“That's why President Obama is solely responsible for the problems in today's Roman Catholic Church, and it's why Obama, and not the Congress, should be sequestered.”

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