Friday, April 01, 2005

On the air with Vatican Vinnie

As Pope John Paul II passes through what may well be the final hours of his long papacy, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls has become a familiar face on TV. His determination to put the best spin on an obviously terrible situation has me calling him Rome's version of Baghdad Bob: Vatican Vinnie.

Several weeks ago, when the pope was unable to breath properly and had to have an emergency tracheotomy, Vatican Vinnie talked as though it was no big deal. In fact, it probably didn't even need to be done--they inserted a breathing tube almost for the hell of it. As if the pope were Michael Jackson in a Rococco Crap store: "I'll take one of those, and one of those, and two of those..."

Yesterday, John Paul was given last rites, which actually had the effect of tearing the media away from poor Terri Schiavo's death bed and putting them in full Pope Death Watch mode. That is a big deal. You know last rights: the Catholic ritual for the dying. "Oh, no, no, no," Vatican Vinnie tells us. "Last rites aren't just for the dying anymore. They give them all the time now. It's really little more than a blessing for the sick." (I'm paraphrasing there.) He practically waved his hand and went, "Last rites...feh."

Um, Vinnie... The last time the pope got last rites was when he took two bullets and the Vatican officials were trying to remember which firewood pile was for the black smoke and which was for the white. Terri Schiavo was off her feeding tube for a week before she got last rites. Cop Rock didn't even get last rites.

This morning, with news that the pope was running a high fever, was in septic shock, and had suffered cardiocirculatory collapse, Vinne tells us that John Paul is "lucid, fully conscious." Most doctors will tell you that if your blood pressure is so low that your veins collapse, then the blood flow to your organs--including your brain--is very low and there is no way you are lucid.

If it weren't for the fact that a person were clinging to life somewhere in the massive complex behind him, Vatican Vinnie's optimistic-to-the-point-of-delusional pronouncements would be almost funny.


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