MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Sources close to Russian President Vladimir Putin say that the 62-year old former KGB agent turned head of state has quite a bit of what they’re calling “Pope envy.”
Putin’s aides are telling multiple American media outlets that their boss’s competitive nature has been “gnawing at him from the inside” over Pope Francis visiting the United States. Putin’s staff says he would have preferred to have His Holiness visit Russia before he visited the U.S., but that he thinks he has come up with a plan they call “nearly, almost, just as good” as having the Pope visit, and Putin has extended an invite to the Vice-Pope to visit his country instead.
“President Putin is quite pleased to announce that he was invited Vice-Pope Ronald P. Charleston to visit the most wonderful and excellent country of Russia,” said the Kremilin’s deputy assistant chief of media communication Andrei Merminski at a press conference held earlier this week. Merminski continued, “and we are also quite pleased to announce his Vice-High-Holiness has accepted the invitation.” Merminski also said that while “undoubtedly having the actual Pope visit would have been nice” that “Vice-Pope Charleston is a nice enough guy” too.
Merminski told reporters that Putin plans to talk to the Vice-Pope about a number of issues that he hopes Charleston will eventually relay to his boss, the actual Pope. “The truth is that while Vice-Pope Charleston is just a missed heartbeat away from the Papacy, we know his actual authority and role in the Church is more of a figurehead type deal,” Mr. Merminski told the press, continuing, “but we still think a few days in Russia might convince the Vice-Pope to talk to the whole-Pope and see if he can’t convince him to come visit and see Russia himself.
“President Putin is also very much so looking forward to singing karaoke with Vice-Pope Charleston,” Merminski told reporters, adding that Putin has heard rumors that the Vice-Pope’s rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” is world class. Merminksi said that Putin is also hoping to do a duet with Charleston on either an old Commodores song, or even the “right” Menudo track. “Karaoke is one of Mr. Putin’s most favorite activities…shirtless of course,” Merminski said.
“The Vice-Pope and President Putin have several activities planned already,” Merminski told reporters when asked about the itinerary, rattling off a list of things Charleston and Putin will do together that includes “riding horseback through the woods,” “hunting large game,” “skipping rope,” and “a ton of shopping and dining at some really great restaurants,” all of which will be done shirtless by Putin. There has been no confirmation from the Vice-Pope’s office if he will go topless as well, but it is a longstanding tradition for Vice-Pope’s to adopt the customs of their host countries when traveling abroad.
Charleston became Vice-Pope in one of the most thrilling Secondary Papal Elections in history, narrowly beating out Klaus Rink of Germany and Henri du Poullard of France in a four-day vote count that ultimately left Charleston victorious by a slim twenty votes, and that was after some controversy erupted when hundred of Vice-Papal ballots were tossed out for having pregnant chads that could not be easily interpreted. Vice-Pope Charleston will depart the Vatican next Tuesday for Moscow, and will spend the ensuing week visiting many places in the country, according to Merminski. Charleston will also be scheduled to deliver an address to the Russian parliament, similar to what Pope Francis did in the U.S. when addressing Congress.