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Cathcon- Given that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and he lives in the Vatican, from where he rules the Church, and presides over Mass, not least, in St Peter's Basilica, it is a joke in the poorest of all possible spiritual taste.
It refers back to the time when Pope Pius IX was really a prisoner in the Vatican, which makes the taste of the joke even worse.
Cardinal O'Malley was considered Papabile.