An intensely Catholic Irish-American couple was on vacation in Italy visiting the Vatican, when they thought, “why not try to get an audience with the Pope?” Upon their inquiry the Vatican’s representative apologized saying it just would not be possible given the pope’s busy schedule. Michael, the husband, persisted, saying that they were very active members of the church back in America and gave quite generously when the collection basket was passed.
The representative asked the couple to wait while he inquired about the possibility of an audience. He soon returned to Michael and his wife, Kathleen, and was all smiles. It seems that Michael and Kathleen were very strong supporters of the church, indeed, and his holiness had a recent cancellation in his very busy schedule. Would they please follow him?
As they were introduced to the pontiff, both Michael and Kathleen were awestruck by the ornate gildings of the pope’s office. There was even what appeared to be a solid gold telephone on the pope’s desk. After the necessary introductions and initial small talk Michael could not keep himself from asking about that gold telephone. Was is special?
“It is very special,” replied the pope. “That gold telephone is a direct hotline to God. I use that phone when I need divine guidance.”
Michael asked if it would be possible that he could use that phone to speak directly with God.
“Well, ordinarily,” said the pope, “that would not be possible. But since you are such strong supporters of the church, I could make an exception. However, the toll for one call is $5,000.”
Although Michael was intensely Catholic, he was also intensely frugal, and he politely declined the offer. “Perhaps on their next visit to the Vatican,” he said.
After their Vatican visit Michael and Kathleen stopped off for a short stay in Ireland just as any good Irish-American couple would. Upon arrival they made their way to County Cork, which was the home of both Michael and Kathleen’s ancestors, and they stopped at McCafferty’s Pub for a short one.
As the barkeep served up their pints, Michael spied a solid gold telephone hanging on the wall behind the bar. “Is that gold phone a direct hotline to God?” asked Michael.
“It is,” replied the barkeep. “Would you like to call the Lord God, Himself? The cost is only 25 cents.”
“25 cents!” shouted Michael. “We just came from the Vatican and the cost there is $5,000. How can you charge just 25 cents?”
“Because,” replied the barkeep. “Here, it’s a local call.”
Copyright 2007. Seamus McCafferty. All rights reserved.