the catholic priest

Once upon a time, many years ago, I was taking a short flight from Bali to Singapore with my, eventually-to-be, ex-wife. She was sitting at the window and I was in the middle seat. We waited some minutes and almost the last person to board came and sat down next to me.  He was a Roman Catholic priest, from somewhere in the middle of America, who had been in some far flung part of Indonesia bringing food, education and Jesus Christ to some people who probably liked all three.

He showed me photographs of schools, clinics and happy smiling people, some probably praying that Jesus would let them get back to their lives, many quite happy that Jesus actually cared about them enough to give them food and teach them to read.

After we had talked about his work, or I should probably say, His work, I asked the priest if it would be OK to ask him a question which had been worrying me for some time. ‘OK’, he said, ‘go ahead.’

I asked him if it was true that the Roman Catholic church was probably the world’s single richest organization; knowing that they have churches smothered in gold, pious devotees giving them masses of cash for nearly 2000 years and vaults under the Vatican filled with treasures looted from history. He replied, ‘Yes, that’s probably true.’

‘OK’, I said, ‘Would you also agree that The Catholic church has been responsible for more human suffering than any other organization, what with the wars in His name, the denial of contraception and such’. ‘Yes’, he replied, ‘That is also probably true.’

‘OK’, I again replied. ‘Penultimate question. Doesn’t it say in the Revelations that the Devil will come arrayed in purple and gold, the colours of the Catholicpriesthood?’

‘Yes, it does say that’, he replied, slightly less confidently than before.

‘Doesn’t that all go to prove then, that the Roman Catholic church is the Devil?’

He immediately snapped his head around to face forward and completely ignored me for the rest of the journey. Unfortunately we still had to take off so I had a very uncomfortable two and a half hour flight to Singapore next to a man who thought was the Devil!