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It's fun as an undercover Catholic

I had a great day out when I went to see the Pontiff

    On Yom Kippur, while I was coming out of the synagogue, across the street I saw two young girls holding up a banner saying: "We love the Pope more than beans on toast".

    Being a life-long lover of beans on toast, naturally I was curious. "Really!?" I asked.

    "We're off to see the Pope in Hyde Park," they said. "Want to come?" Immediately I decided to go for the best double whammy in town, the Chief Rabbi and the Pope.

    "Can you get me in?" I asked Father Paul, a young Irishman from West Sussex.

    "How much is a ticket?"

    The sun shone as a group of dancing nuns twirled by

    "Oh don't you worry about that," he said.

    "Father, I've got to tell you something first, you see, I'm not exactly on the Catholic side of the world," I said.

    "Really? Is that so?" he said.

    "It is so. I'm Jewish."

    "Really?" he said, "is that so?"

    "It is so indeed," I said.

    "I've just come out the synagogue, it's Yom Kippur you know."

    By this time I was talking in an Irish brogue. I always find myself automatically mimicking other people's accents. I can't even go to my local curry house because of political correctness.

    "Where's the park?" he asked.

    "Follow me, Father," I said, picking up a banner with 'Father Paul' on it and, followed by 25 Catholics from Crawley, I headed up Park Lane.

    En route I pointed out some of our own religious monuments.

    "That's the Dorchester." I said. "It's like a cathedral for barmitzvahs. It's like your confirmation, only with life-size statues of the barmitzvah boy in chop liver."

    The Father handed me a pink wrist band and a form saying 'I was a West Sussex pilgrim'. "So converting isn't that difficult." I said: "Father, think of this as your contribution to interfaith relations."

    Security was non-existent: They should definitely consider hiring the CST; one wave of my pink wristband and I was in. They must have relaxed after the arrest of the Westminster Six, the Algerian road sweepers. What did they think they were going to do ? "Up brooms and at him! Mass your carts chaps and charge!"?

    Inside, as a precautionary measure I bought the £10 programme, the one with the largest picture of the Pope on the cover. In case someone suspected I wasn't really a Catholic, I'd flash it at them.

    The sun shone as a group of dancing nuns twirled by.

    As the only person in a suit and tie, and not wanting to stand out, I mingled with a group from Nigeria.

    After two hours, with still no sign of the main act, I was getting impatient. (I make my the toast in the microwave). "Hurry up!" I shout. "I don't want to appear disrespectful Father, but I'll watch him later on TV," I said.

    "I've got to be getting back to the synagogue."

    At the press and disabled exit a guard barred my path.

    "Once you're in, you're in. You can't get out again," he said. "What! I'm going to have to be a Catholic for ever!?" I asked.

    "I'm the Jewish Chronicle's disabled interfaith correspondent," I said.

    I limped through. As I got to Hyde Park corner, the popemobile arrived.

    He was lucky, another 30 seconds and he'd have missed me. The Pope waved at me.

    I waved back. By the time I'd walked back to the shul, the door was shut and the rabbi had gone home. Good yontif to the pontif!.

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