Rome - A plot to top the Pope may be a self-inflicted rumor to boost his plummeting popularity ratings someone at the Vatican said today.
Widespread media coverage implicating Sicilian Cardinal Paolo Romeo, Archbishop of Palermo's remarks in China about Old Papa Ratzi kicking the bucket 'sometime this year' was being rubbished by Vatican soothsayers this afternoon.
And an editorial in Rome's leading red top Corriere Della Que Sera Sera described allegations of 'Chinese hit men' stalking the old rascal as just plain daft.
"Plenty of other nations' grievances against Pope Benedict take precedence in the assassination pecking order," the paper commented mysteriously.
Officially the last Pope to be topped in an insider job was 'Papa Luciano' John Paul I whose 33-day stint at the Throne of St Peter ended in a still largely unexplained RIP.
Reports that a purse containing 30 pieces of silver were discovered in JPI's bed were of course nonsense.
"It was 33 not 30," an Opus Dei inquisitor who conducted the postmortem revealed last week.
Joseph Ratzinger is 104.