Watch out Vatican, you’re next for Dennis Rodman.
The former NBA star turned ersatz diplomat popped up in Italy on Wednesday, walking near St. Peter’s Square.
He’s allegedly campaigning for the cardinal from Ghana, Peter Turkson. But when asked about it, he replied, “From Africa, right?”
Rodman said he was sure the next pope would be black. He also expressed interest in meeting the cardinal in Africa on Rodman’s self-styled mission to promote world peace.
When spotted by reporters in Rome, Rodman was wearing a hat and T-shirt promoting the Irish betting firm that organized his trip.
It’s his second very public international trip in a month. Rodman recently returned from North Korea, and said the country’s dictator, Kim Jong Un was “a good guy to me.”
Upon his return, he said he was aware of North Korea’s human rights record, which the State Department has characterized as one of the worst in the world. Rodman wasn’t planning on apologizing for Kim, but he did want to pass a note between the leaders.
When Rodman returned from North Korea he told ABC’s “This Week” that Kim simply wanted to receive a phone call from President Barack Obama and he suggested the two could bond over a mutual love of basketball.
Rodman claimed that Kim told him ‘He did not want to do war.’ But the statement conflicts with communication between North Korea and the U.S. just a few months ago.
In January, following a vote by the U.N. Security Council to condemn the North’s successful rocket launch and expand penalties against Kim’s government, Kim’s National Defense Commission said in a statement that “settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words.” The statement also promised “a new phase of the anti-U.S. struggle that has lasted century after century.”
After returning from North Korea, Dennis Rodman was escorted out of the Time Hotel in New York’s Midtown neighborhood. He had reportedly spent hours at the restaurant bar loudly telling anyone who would listen how Kim was a great guy.
Rodman’s plans for what comes next seems unsure – just like his plan to enter St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday. He planned on arriving in a custom-built “pope-mobile” but the vehicle had been delayed by snow in northern Italy.
Rodman has said he plans to return to North Korea to find out “what’s really going on.”
So while the campaigning of Rodman probably won’t have much clout among the cardinals, as Gawker writer Max Reed put it, while we don’t want to encourage Rodman from hanging out around the Vatican … anything to keep Rodman out of North Korea.
And I just hope the next stop on his world tour isn’t Iran.