Tarzan's Tripes Forever, and Other Feghoots

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Why Cardinal Grapje Wasn’t Named Pope

Category: Rated G

As one might only expect, several pope tales are making the rounds. This one came from New Mexico colleague, Jerry Born.


Hans Grapje was raised in a Catholic school in The Hague and as a young man aspired to become a priest. However, he was drafted into the Army during WWII and spent two years co- piloting B17s until his aircraft was shot down in 1943, resulting in the loss of his left arm. Captain Grapje spent the rest of the war as a military chaplain, giving spiritual aid to soldiers, both Allied and enemy.

After the war, he became a priest, serving as a missionary in Africa, piloting his own plane (in spite of his handicap) to villages across the continent.

In 1997, Father Grapje (now an Archbishop) was serving in Zimbabwe when an explosion in a silver mine caused a massive cave-in trapping scores of miners deep in the earth. Archbishop Grapje went down into the mine to administer comfort and last rites to those too severely injured to move. While underground another shaft collapsed and he was buried for three days, suffering multiple injuries, including the loss of his right eye. Some time after being rescued, he developed a severe (but rare) condition known as purpura. This condition is the result of extensive underground time and exposure to the high silver content in the mine’s air. It is characterized by purplish skin blotches and is found in many life-long silver miners. For his heroism and selfless service to others, the church elevated him to Cardinal.

With the passing of Pope John Paul II, he joined the other Cardinals in Rome for the funeral and the conclave to select a new Pope from their ranks. Although Cardinal Grapje devoted his life to the service of God as a scholar, mentor and holy man; church leaders agree he will never ascend to the Papacy.

After all, no one wants a one-eyed, one-armed, flying purple Papal leader.

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