Fr Michael Seed in attempted Balkans arms deal
But reports that Tony Blair’s confessor has fixed the odd papal ‘k’ is not the first time this troublesome friar has been accused of bringing his church into disrepute.
As if the conversion of Tony Blair were not disrepute enough, it appears that whenever a celebrity seeks to convert (privately), Fr Michael is never very far away (with a coincidental pack of paparazzi). All the gags about ‘sin-bins’ and his salacious ‘pray-and-tell’ memoirs (entitled ‘Saints and Sinners’, launched at Stringfellows [...where else?]) have perhaps been exhausted. His ‘Confessions of a Cleric’ were allegedly greeted with dismay by Pope Benedict XVI. After all, the confessional is supposed to be confidential, and while Fr Michael has never disclosed that Tony Blair repented of his fervent support for abortion and privately regrets introducing civil partnerships, this particular Franciscan does seem to enjoy name-dropping (or, rather, name-carpet-bombing).
But, in an era which is highly sensitive to any link between cash and honours, the allegations in the Mail on Sunday that Fr Michael Seed has arranged papal knighthoods in exchange for generous donations to Roman Catholic causes are grave indeed.
Paypal cash for Papal honours?
But that isn't the worst of it. The Mail further reports: 'The most damaging evidence concerns his attempted cultivation of an Israeli arms dealer, Hezi Bezalel, who was seeking business opportunities in the Balkans'.
Business opportunities in the Balkans? Was Fr Michael really involved in arming Croatian Catholic nationalists - the long-time adversaries of Western democracy? Fr Michael allegedly claimed he could introduce Mr Bezalel to influential Balkan politicians ‘and the man who looks after all arms for the region’. Who is this person? How on earth does Fr Michael know him? This revelation is grave indeed: far more so than the selling of trivial trinkets like honours.
It’s not as if his superiors could not have seen this coming: vows of chastity and poverty are a little incongruous with a celebrity champagne life-style, which includes a luxury flat in Pimlico and cavorting with scantily-clad women in London’s nightclubs. The Cardinal Sins remain unchanged: lust, greed, pride... Any responsible spiritual leader would have ordered Fr Michael to abstinence, humility and obedience as an immediate and urgent remedy. Haven’t they watched Sister Act? AN Wilson once cuttingly remarked that where two or three Hello!-style celebs are gathered together, Fr Michael Seed will surely be there in their midst, managing to be both clumsily sycophantic and intrusive.
How long is it before he appears on Strictly Come Dancing?
The day may be nearer than he thought.
But perhaps no sooner than he hoped.