The Rules

I barely made it out of Vatican City alive last week in the name of professional reportage. I'd read in The New York Times that Pope Benedict XVI, in addition to sending Vatican investigators to over 200 U.S. seminaries, was about to sign and publish an exhaustive rule book explaining the church's imminent crackdown on even celibate homosexuals within the priesthood. I immediately decided to whisk off to Rome to get an advance copy of the Vatican's latest literature by posing as one of the various Catholic laymen who publish its daily newspaper (a naive misunderstanding of the term having led me to the assumption that "laymen," Catholic or no, would welcome me with open arms).

Full of fearless confidence, I thought someone on the inside could eventually be convinced to give me a peek at the document. However, I wasn't sure how easy it would be to insinuate myself, what with so many august cardinals roaming about, since the only Latin I know is "fellatio." Oddly, such a handicap only seemed to make my subterfuge that much easier: Simply repeating that one word gained me entry to several locked offices and left me with an assortment of private phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and effusive notes with offers for intimate Italian dinners (the most direct of which translated into something like, "Let me introduce you to St. Peter").

Well, innocent charm or no, someone finally blew the whistle on my charade—there's always onebitter old queen who can't handle the competition—and I was forced to run for my life from Vatican security. As I said, it was a close call, but I escaped thanks to the help of a sympathetic editor for L'Osservatore Romano's comics page, who thought my joke about Benedict resembling Uncle Fester was "a hoot and a half." And while I wasn't able to swipe the entire document, I did manage to get away with the first 10 rules, which will no doubt rid the Catholic Church of homosexuals for centuries to come:

All skirts must be worn below the knee.

No idol worship—except for Clay Aiken, who is so good to his mother.

Novitiates must stop describing his holiness' gowns as "fabulous."

Conversation between seminarians may not include the question, "So, what do you think of the new talent?"

The new talent is to be divided equally among only those cardinals who have proved their discretion.

All future ecumenical council disagreements are to be voiced with decorum, free of disparaging comments such as, "Look who has her panties in a twist."

Marathon screenings of The Thornbirds are hereby terminated.

Angelina Jolie is not a potential candidate for sainthood.

"Madonna" refers to the Blessed Virgin Mary and nobody else.

Similarly, "Mary" is the mother of our lord and not a term of endearment.

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