A tape recording of a private conversation between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and visiting Pope Francis has been smuggled out of Turkey.
Released on the internet only last night, it is already causing severe embarrassment to all concerned. The Holy See has called it "a fake" as has the Turkish government.
Google has said it is "innocent of any wrongdoing; and in fact CAN do no wrong as the Pope knows fine well. We stand and always will stand for Freedom of Expression... except, of course, when threatened by powerful lawyers representing powerful people.". Here is an edited transcript:
"Your Eminence...those who feel defeated, wronged, oppressed and abandoned ... can become open to being exploited by terror organisations," Mr. Erdogan began in a quiet voice.
"I was talking to Jeff Zucker Head of CNN about that very thing just last week. That's how John Paul the First lost it, Recep. When you submit to exploitation only then can you become a true servant of God," replied Francis.
"I was referring to mind controlling terrorist organizations, Your Holiness."
"You don't mean Our Holy Mother, The Roman Catholic Church?"
"No, not that terrorist organization! One that wears turbans not birettas, cloaks not cassocks, white not black."
"No, you idiot! I mean an organization that brings fear and panic!"
"I can assure you, nothing brings more fear and panic to my flock, male and female, than Victoria's Secret. Their last line helped put the level of molestation in homes, colleges and seminaries everywhere to an all time high. We have nuns still in hiding. But pray, do go on..."
"Turkey has one point six million refugees fleeing ISIS in Syria."
"That's almost as many altar boys as we have fleeing priests in Ireland."
"I think international outfits such as yours, Your Eminence,..
"Ours, Recep.... Ours. Get it right."
"....should be helping us to cope with the influx..."
"We pray for you every day, Recep.. twice on Sundays."
"I meant financial help!"
(Sound of papal laughter followed by lighter clicking as he lights his cigar.).
"Oh that... Always comes down to money, doesn't it? Filthy, filthy money. Our Kingdom, Recep, let me remind you, is, like the currency exchange rate, not of this world. We are just scraping by, as you know, on a few hundred billion a year from the drugs trade, weapons manufacture and the rackets in general. Next thing you know you will be asking us to sell our art treasures to help the poor."
"Of course, I didn't mean... Your Holiness."
'That's okay. I forgive you..... But for calling me an "idiot" I command you to lash yourself a dozen times each morning as you pray towards the World Bank until further notice. It's only fair. I will have a special Opus Dei whip sent to you. Used to belong to Tony Blair; and before that to Hermann Goering. And before that... to Red Pollard, jockey of the immortal Seabiscuit. It is true what they say Recep,... "little jockeys have big whips". I'll sign it so that you can sell it some day on Ebay."
"Can I not use my own?"
"Oh... all right. What time is our meeting at the Istanbul Lodge?"
"Seven minutes and seven seconds past seven. I'll get our man on the minaret to put the word out."
"Damn fine cigar Recep."
"Present from Barack, Your Eminence. Fidel sent him a warehouse full in exchange for a bag of cocaine and an aerial snap of Las Vegas."