A German man who disguised himself as a bishop was booted out of a closed-door Vatican meeting after he bypassed security checkpoints.
According to the Telegraph, Ralph Napierski dressed in imitation ecclesiastical robes and told reporters that his name was Basilius and that he was a bishop from an order called Corpus Dei of the Italian Orthodox Church (neither of which exist). Napierski posed for photos and mingled with more than 140 cardinals outside of Paul VI Hall before apparently trying to blend into the crowd and sifting into the top-secret meeting. But as soon as Napierski had gained access to the conference, he was forcibly removed by Swiss Guards.
The Vatican guards were reportedly tipped off by the fact that Napierski’s vestments didn’t quite look like all the other bishops’. While other Catholic prelates wore traditional red sashes, Napierski donned an imitation magenta scarf around his waist, and a shorter cassock and different crucifix than the real bishops wear. In place of a skullcap, Napierski wore a black fedora.
Napierski runs a blog, titled Corpus Dei, named for the order he claims he founded, which is described as a “Catholic Order after episcopal law.”
“Bishop Ralph Napierski is a Catholic bishop under the primacy of Pope Benedict XVI, and he is in union with the Roman Catholic Church,” he writes on the blog. “Bishop Ralph is a slave and apostle like St. Paul.”
Napierski also runs a separate blog, called Jesus Yoga, that is intended to educate followers about “hidden techniques of Christian meditation.”
Napierski writes that “meditation in the presence and aura of relics is very powerfull and effective since relics radiate a special energy [sic]” and that it can lead “into Christ consciousness.”
Before being kicked out of the conference, he told reporters that he believed Catholic bishops were wrong to move priests who had been accused of sexual abuse around various parishes, prompting the Daily Mail to describe him as a “child abuse protester.”
According to the Sun, the principal motive for the secretive conference is to agree on a date for the upcoming papal conclave, the formal meeting at which the College of Cardinals will elect the next pope.
An earlier version of this story misidentified Ralph Napierski as Italian. He is, in fact, German.