The man is too, too sharp, like a good stilton.
Well, that's it! He's really done it this time. Pope Benedict XVI has apparently driven Carla Bruni, First Lady of France, out of the Catholic Church on account of his opposition to the use of condoms in Africa and his claim that they aggravate the Aids problem. "I was born Catholic," said Bruni, "I was baptised, but in my life I feel profoundly secular. I find that the controversy coming from the Pope's message - albeit distorted by the media - is very damaging."
Nostradamus might have had the decency to warn us about this. Can the Catholic Church survive without La Bruni? The prognosis cannot be good. The loss of this deeply devout single mother who married President Sarkozy as his third wife - the President displays a commendable support for marriage - could have demoralising repercussions. Will this disillusionment mean that Bruni's Brussels lace mantilla will no longer grace Vespers at St Nicolas-du-Chardonnet? Will she be absent from the Chartres pilgrimage this year?
Now Catholics know how Anglicans felt when Newman fled the coop. "I think the Church should evolve on this issue," said Bruni, echoing the words of the Rev Tony Blair on a similar issue not long ago. So there is unanimity within the Airhead Tendency: evolution is the answer - Darwinian Catholicism.
Even from a secular viewpoint, if we did not have the wise words of Carla Bruni to guide us we might have lent credence to the Catholic abstinence campaign in Uganda which reduced the 18 per cent HIV infection rate among adults in 1992 to 5 per cent in 2007. Without Bruni, we might be tempted to listen to uninformed commentators such as the director of the AIDS Prevention Center at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies who said: "The best evidence we have supports the Pope's comments."
So, can the Catholic Church survive such a defection? The loss of Madame la Guillotine, or whatever the ceremonial designation of the First Lady of France may be in the post-Bourbon era of republican buffoonery, will surely be felt hard in Rome. There will be lights burning late in the Vatican Secretariat of State, as the most astute minds in the Papal diplomatic corps try to devise means of mitigating the effects of this blow.
If Bruni is truly lost to the household of the Faith, the next priority must be to strain every nerve to prevent a similar departure by the Blessed Tony Blair, who must surely not only be considered papabile, but the strategic thinker best equipped to shape the Church for Vatican III. "Hey, look, I'm a pretty straight sort of Lollard"... If copies of any ICEL liturgical documents should chance to fall into his hands, he will be gratified finally to have achieved his ambition of discovering weapons of Mass destruction.