Plus 25% for yourself

by Kieran Healy on October 24, 2003

Patrick Belton at OxBlog disapproves of the “Pope Death Watch” but can’t resist linking to the betting on JPII’s successor, together with an analysis of the contenders. The main candidates are an Italian, a Cuban and a Nigerian, which sounds like the beginning of a pretty bad joke, the punchline to which is left as an exercise for the reader. I want the Nigerian to win, mainly because of the expanded possibilities for spam:


bq. Dear Sir, I pray this important message meets you in peace, may blessings of God be upon you and your family and grant you the wisdom to understand my situation and how much I really need your assistance. Before I start let me introduce myself, my name is FRANCIS ARINZE, Cardinal of the most holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, former President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and prefect of divine worship and discipline of sacraments. I have recently been elected Pontiff of the Universal Church by the conclave of cardinals, which you may have seen on the news.

bq. Upon accession to my office I found that the spiritual finances of the church were in a difficult position dues to the activities of certain members of my predecessor’s staff. Budgetary measures undertaken by an American auditor have rectified the account sheet, but in the process they were forced to temporarily suspend the decision of St Pius V banning financial transactions in indulgences.

bq. As you are a learned person, you will no doubt be aware that the Treasury of the Church constitutes an inexhaustible fund which, via standard open-market operations, was easily sufficient to remit the debt. Due to the unexpected intervention of St Anthony, however, we also turned up three large trunks filled with devotional medals, last seen during the later years of the reign of Boniface VIII. Each of these medals is enriched with a perpetual apostolic indulgence good for the extra-sacramental remission, a culpa et a poena, of temporal punishment due to one (1) mortal or ten (10) venal sin(s), and valued at approximately $125 million at prevailing exchange rates.

bq. These trunks are located in vaults of a security company in The Netherlands (Holland). I was contacted in a letter dated 12th of September by the security company asking me to indicate if I was in receipt of the letter as a sign that I am living and still subscribed for their service.

bq. I am interested in using a small fraction of this money, much less than
one percent for a re- organization of the work of God, plus some necessary payments to certain litigants in the United States, but I do not need the rest and do not want to have any direct dealing with it. But I need someone who will be able to use the fund better maybe for charity or something universally profitable. I have thought of doing it myself but, well, I am the Pope and a trip to Holland in the popemobile might be noticed. I will be glad if you have any interest in the direction of maybe managing or transmitting the fund as you prefer in your capacity and understanding.

bq. I will be glad to get a response from you ASAP.

bq. Regards, FRANCIS ARINZE (Pope)



Brad DeLong 10.24.03 at 2:00 am

Wow! Go on. “On entering into my new chambers I discovered 530,000,000,000,000 indulgences, each good for a year off of your time in purgatory or for a private party with the four living creatures covered with eyes who sing before the Throne…”


Kieran Healy 10.24.03 at 2:22 am

OK, hang on a minute.


John 10.24.03 at 5:25 am

Surely it wouldn’t be the Pope himself, but one of his relations.

“…let me introduce myself, my name is WILLIAM ARINZE, nephew to the recently elected POPE JOHN XXIV, whom you may have heard of on the news. My uncle, before being elected Pope, had left several important church relics worth US $20 Million (20,000,000) in safe keeping. Unfortunately…


Jacob T. Levy 10.24.03 at 10:01 am


I’m very glad I’ve just come out in favor of making fun of religions so I can enjoy this in good conscience.


Tripp 10.24.03 at 5:11 pm

That was wonderful!


Joshua W. Burton 10.24.03 at 6:59 pm

The Council of Carthage set down the canons of the African church in 419 CE. Coincidence?


john 11.25.03 at 6:20 am


>plus some necessary payments to certain litigants in the United States,

is especially nice. Thanks.

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