John Lilburne's journal about Archbishop Hart's joke on the Pope.

 

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2002 L Wed 26 Dec 2001

I went to the cricket today -- seeing the first day of the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It rained a lot, so I had plenty of time to read The Age newspaper.

An interesting article was on Backpage, edited by Michael Shmith. Under the headline "Laughing Matter" it has "... BackPage contacted a host of people asking them for their best or favourite joke ...". The first is from Archbishop Hart:

Pope John Paul was visiting New Zealand and was being driven from Wellington to Auckland. Suddenly he became impatient with the chauffeur and urged him to drive faster. The chauffeur replied that it would be more than his livelihood was worth to be caught speeding. So the Pope asked him to move into the back while he drove.

After a while the sound of a police siren was heard and the car was pulled over. Then the policeman was seen to speak into his radio. He spoke to his superior: "I have some really important person pulled over for speeding."

"Is it the prime minister?"

"More important than that."

"Is it the governor?"

"More important still."

"Well, who is it?"

"I don't know," the officer replied, "but the Pope is his chauffeur!"

In Australia there have been lots of advertisements to convey the message to drive within the speed limit and that "speed kills". The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifically refers to the same problem:

The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others' safety on the road, at sea, or in the air. (CCC 2290)

So perhaps part of the joke's intention is simply to encourage people to think about the need to drive safely, the risk of being pulled over for speeding, whoever they are.

Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 26 December 2001.