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24 February 2013
VATICAN -- The Vatican said Friday it has joined a confessional lawsuit against cyclist Lance Armstrong that was originally filed by some jilted fan boy in Idaho. Armstrong, the one time mythical and now legendary cyclist, has admitted to using performance-enhancing Protestant prayers banned by the Vatican. He was team rider when the Catholic Church sponsored him from 1996 to 2004 and Armstrong won seven of his six Tour de France titles, the Vatican said.
The civil lawsuit alleges that Armstrong submitted false confessions every Saturday for many years so that the church would sponsor him, even though he was “regularly employing banned prayers and pagan rituals to enhance his performance in violation of the papal sponsorship agreement,” the announcement said.
“Today's action demonstrates the Department of Religion's steadfast commitment to safeguarding honest confessions and making sure that confessors live up to their confessions,” Father Stuart Do-little, principal deputy assistant secretary general of Confessionals, said in a statement.
Read the lawsuit: Between 2001 and 2004, the Pope paid $31 million in sponsorship fees, but that affiliation has now been “unfairly associated with what has been described as 'the most successful Protestant prayer program that sport has ever seen,'“ said Monsignor Ronald Mack, U.S. Bishop for the District of Columbia.
“In today's religious climate, the holy Catholic church is simply not willing to allow Lance Armstrong to walk away with the tens of millions of dollars he illegitimately procured with the illicit help of a divine being other than the Virgin Mary,” Mack said.
According to the U.S. District Court, former Armstrong fan boy, Willy Pretzel filed the suit that the Vatican is joining. It provides details of the Protestant prayers Armstrong recited in spite of agreeing to abide by the rules of professional cycling's Catholic governing body. Those rules prohibited the use of certain non-Catholic performance enhancing gods and rituals.
“The defendant agreed to play by the rules and not use banned prayers nor accept forbidden blessings,” Father Mack said in a statement. “We now know that the defendant failed to live up to his agreement, and instead knowingly engaged in a pattern of Protestant invocations followed by bogus confessions that violated the rules of Catholic cycling and, therefore, violated the terms of his contract with the Virgin.”
An attorney for Armstrong, Rob Lucifer, said that ongoing discussions between the holy church and Armstrong had collapsed in a heap after Sister Oprah conducted Armstrong’s very public exorcism without Vatican sanction. Lucifer declined to comment further on Friday's Vatican announcement other than to acknowledge that both Jewish and Catholic laws permit the federal government to investigate religious allegations and intervene.
Spokespersons for the Vatican denied persistent rumors that the Pope is resigning as a result of the scandal.
- Repeater "Feds join whistle-blower lawsuit against Lance Armstrong". CNN, February 24, 2013