A German man disguised as a bishop snuck into the Vatican Monday as part of an attempt to infiltrate the secret pre-conclave meetings of the Church officials who will choose the next pope.
Ralph Napierski (L) managed to pass at least one level of security and even posed for a photo with Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, president emeritus of the Vatican’s Prefecture for Economic Affairs. VINCENZO PINTO / Getty Images
Fake bishop Ralph Napierski claimed to be a bishop of the (non-existent) German Catholic Order “Corpus Dei,” according to Italian news agency ANSA.
[Source: USA Today] Via Facebook: bishop.ralph
According to the “Corpus Dei” website, it is an order “after episcopal [sic] law” that is “defending the catholic [sic] faith inside the church against heretics that are inside the church” and working to “unite all christians [sic] under the cross.”
The “Corpus Dei” website lists “Bishop Ralph Napierski” as its founder and states that he is also an “internet activist and hacker for information freedom and information security.”
Napierski is also involved with “Jesus Yoga,” which claims to promote “the ancient and hidden techniques of Christian meditation.”
This does not appear to be the first time that Napierski has snuck into high-profile meetings of the Catholic Church. He posted a picture on his Facebook page of him and leading papal contender Cardinal Peter Turkson.
Via Facebook: bishop.ralph
On Monday, after he cleared the first level of security, Napierski mingled with Cardinals and various officials for half an hour outside the auditorium where the top-secret meeting was to take place.
L'Osservatore Romano / AP
He introduced himself as “Basilius” to the reporters and Cardinals outside the auditorium and claimed to be a bishop in the Italian Orthodox Church (which also doesn’t exist).
Osservatore Romano / Reuters
Security grew suspicious of Napierski’s strange garb, which included a “too-short cassock, a black fedora in place of a clergy’s skull cap and a bright purple-pink sash” that turned out to be a scarf and stopped him as he entered the meeting.
Source: USA Today VINCENZO PINTO / Getty Images
Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, would not comment on Napierski’s alleged attempt to enter the congregations. “All I can say is that everyone seated for the congregation is a real cardinal,” he said.
Source: USA Today Max Rossi / Reuters