A professional pronounces on Cardinal Foley’s puns

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)Actor-comedian Henry Gibson said the puns and quips for which Cardinal John P. Foley is famous (or infamous) “are excellent. His mind never stops.”

The actor, known for his appearances on “Laugh-In” years ago and currently a frequent guest-star as Judge Clark Brown on “Boston Legal,” traveled to Rome for Saturday’s consistory to see his old friend Cardinal Foley receive his red hat.

But Gibson didn’t actually get inside St. Peter’s Basilica. “It was my fault,” he said. He left his ticket at his hotel and by the time he got back with it, the basilica was filled to overflowing. So, to the delight of many U.S. pilgrims also watching on big television screens set up in St. Peter’s Square, Gibson followed the ceremony with them al fresco.

But he did get into to the Sunday afternoon reception for the new cardinal at the Rome headquarters of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, which Cardinal Foley serves as grand master.

He claimed he and Cardinal Foley were part of a five-member “Rat Pack” at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia. “We’ve been solid friends since 1949,” he said.

“We were involved in all the school activities: drama, debate, anything to do with writing or literature,” he said. “The cardinal and I were in two stage productions together,” one a play called “Green Pastures” and the other an adaptation of the story of Cyrano de Bergerac. Indicating how Cardinal Foley towers over his diminutive stature, he said, “We were Mutt and Jeff. He was a wonderful actor.”

And, Gibson said, Cardinal Foley has always been a kind friend and loving priest. When the cardinal was in Philadelphia last year for the funeral of one of the “Rat Pack” members, “all of Philadelphia was flocking around him like always,” but he gently pushed them aside to greet Gibson and inquire about his wife, Lois, who was sick. “He took my hands right there and said, ‘Let’s pray for her.'” She died in May “and he sent the most beautiful letter from the Vatican,” Gibson said. 

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