The Vatican confirmed today it had suffered further humiliation in the eyes of the world by failing to deliver a "Pope - one divine owner, recently recovered " to Jonny Sweetman of Chessington, Surrey, despite the auction closing weeks ago - and losing its cherished 100% eBay score.
'Where is my ex-Pontiff?' declared a disgruntled Mr Sweetman. 'The ad said they had to shift the old pope as a new one was being fitted this week. I hope they haven't chucked him out in the front garden - the Gypsies will have him in no time'.
The Vatican denied reneging on the deal, and put the delay down to confusion over delivery charges. 'Yes the first ad said "postage and package free to Europe" - the ad we pulled because that was clearly ridiculous' said a Vatican spokesman. 'The relisted item was marked "local pickup only", and I can assure Signor Sweetman that his pope is safe and sound, in our garage, ready for collection - but he might be a bit mildewy by now'.
Intent on being seen as a man of action, Pope Francis I is reported to have overruled the Curia's online auction department by issuing an immediate apology to Mr Sweetman and offering to refund the £5.67 winning bid to his PayPal account, before shoving his predecessor in a tea-chest bound for England.
'I'm still annoyed at the wait, but to be honest the wife was a bit relieved' said Mr Sweetman. 'She reckons I have to get rid of a few retired religious leaders before I bid on any more. You don't know anyone who wants an Archbishop of Canterbury do you?'