Religion is not something that you enjoy. It’s rather like one of those football-sized tumors that grow out of your neck. Yes, sinners, I carry my faith as an extra appendage, and I don’t care if the clerks at Crate & Barrel stare at me, either.

I only mention my huge faith as an introduction to the lustful celebration they call St. Patrick’s Day. Although that man known as Pat and I have the same mission -- saving the sinners from eternal damnation through self-sacrifice and clean living -- we differ on one account: I would never be caught dead in a kelly-green smock. That man had no color sense.

In researching this month’s column, I called my old friend, Pope Benedict XVI (I still address postcards to him with his birth name, Joseph Ratzinger, and the little altar boys in the Vatican mailroom sometimes send them back to me with a “nobody here by that name”).

As usual, Papa-Pope answered my call on the second ring, and he giggled as he told me of his latest little joke: lifting the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, who denies that the Holocaust ever happened.

“I get so bored in this marble Vatican tomb, Francine,” he moaned to me, “and I’ve got to come up with ways to entertain myself. I’ve raised more eyebrows in the past month than that other pope, John Paul, did in 26 years!”

Papa’s ability to get into the world’s daily news is extraordinary. But here in Kansas City, a lot of the Catholics I talk to have no clue that there’s any controversy going on at all. If it happens outside of Missouri or Kansas, nobody in Kansas City knows about it — or cares.

“I hate it when you tell me that, Francine. If I tell you a secret, will you never, ever repeat it to anyone in the States, even your adorers in Kansas City?

I nodded, and he continued.

“The only topics that are making news in America today are the gays and crabby Republicans. My influence over there is waning. ... So, in order to get the attention of American Catholics, I am going to come out of the closet, Francine, as a gay man and as a Republican.”

The man is brilliant. He’ll capture the hearts of the Gays and the majority of Johnson County, Kan. He sent me a little pic of his new stole, and if you ask me, he’s got the world in his back pocket. If he had a back pocket.

Sinners, I am on fire! Imagine — me, helping the Catholic Church grab the attention of the indifferent! Glad I could help.
Francine offers her slightly skewed viewpoint on issues in the Kansas City metropolitan area’s LGBT community in each issue of Camp. And since you’re asking, yes, she’s a fictional character. Well, you asked.

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