From Fr Ted Crilly

To His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

Dear your Holiness, your Honour, your formerly Eminence,

I am writing to you on behalf of Dougal. (Fr D. Mcguire, formerly of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, third class). Now, your Supreme Pontificate, as I am sure a fellow like you will know, it gets awful lonely on this island. There is, to be sure, by way of intimates, only Jack Hackett (who is hardly your picture postcard even when sober), and Mrs Doyle who has all the charm and beauty of a battered fruit cake. Young Dougal is an orphan, in need of guidance and warmth of affection. And I, as the Bishop will have told you, am not getting any younger. Dougal was reading the papers the other day. He can do that quite well now. And he read that in England they are going to have things called Civil Partnerships – a bit like marriages but without the nooky. And young Dougal thought to himself, ‘Now I have few qualities which the world admires; but I am very civil. That’s what my mother taught me to be. Wouldn’t that be grand for Ted and me. Then I could be his next of kin when he’s dying in the hospice, and inherit the killing his mother made from the Common Agricultural Policy on the farm in County Wicklow.’ And I thought to myself, your Infallibility, that though Dougal is not very bright, he is very civil. Who could reject a partnership with him, what with the Fair Isle pullies and the carpet slippers and all? So what I was wondering, your Exaltation, is whether we couldn’t just slip over to England and get hitched – no nooky guaranteed – and come back and live happily ever after, without the Bishop knowing.

Yours most abjectly,

Father Ted Crilly

PS. Dougal asks if you are the same Joseph Ratzinger whose mother had the tobacconist’s next to his granny in Waterford.