Earlier today I received the following press release in an e-mail attachment. It was also posted on the Vatican’s website before mysteriously vanishing just an hour later.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rocco De La Guardia, Office of Public Relations
E-mail: rocco @ lasantasede.va
The Catholic Church to Disband After 2010 Farewell Tour
VATICAN CITY (Apr. 30, 2010) — After 2,000 years, millions of baptisms, and too many standing-room-only Christmas Eve and Easter services to count, the Catholic Church has decided to call it quits, announcing that Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 world tour will be his and the Church’s last.
In an exclusive interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the pope remarked, “Every church, no matter how popular it becomes, has to eventually ask itself: ‘Are we still relevant? Do we still have something to say to people?’ And in our case, the answer is no.”
After being elected to the papacy in April 2005, Pope Benedict struggled to convince Catholics that he could effectively replace Pope John Paul II, with attendance at worship services declining over the years. “John Paul was the most dynamic frontman I’d ever seen,” the pope, 83, told L’Osservatore. “You couldn’t take your eyes off him, even when he took his eyes off you and fell asleep during a service.”
He continued, “But these days it’s not the Church’s eyes that Catholics wish we’d take off them. To put it another way, the Vatican may be the Holy See, but over the past few decades the Church has become the Holy Touch.”
In recent weeks the pope promised that the Catholic Church would do “penance” for its “sins,” hinting at allegations that have cropped up throughout Europe of sexual abuse by priests and subsequent cover-ups by bishops. “I’ve decided that the best course of action is for the Church to disband. I would say we’ve decided to go out on top, but it’s doubtful the many victims of abuse would appreciate me wording it that way.”
Pope Benedict has agreed to pardon all priests and bishops accused of misconduct. “That way the victims won’t have to waste their hard-earned money suing them,” he said. “It works out well for both sides — because people don’t go to church that often anymore, they don’t leave as much money in the collection plate as they used to, and therefore the Catholic Church doesn’t have as much money to fight sexual-abuse lawsuits as it once did. I’m not blaming parishioners for what transpired, but it’s clear the problems began once they stopped going to church every week.”
The pope said his decision to break up the Church after only 2,000 years was inspired by the Beatles, the popular musical group that broke up in April 1970. “They had the right idea. They ended it before it got stale,” he said, adding, “We were bigger than the Beatles for a few years there, but nothing lasts forever — nothing except guilt. Catholics kind of wrote the book on that one, didn’t we?” The pope laughed. “Besides, I’m German and I lived through World War II, so believe me, I know all about guilt.”
Pope Benedict XVI recommended that future ex-Catholics shop around for a new Christian denomination before committing, but he also had high marks for Islam: “Some of it may seem extreme at first, but it’s the kick in the pants organized religion has desperately needed for a long time now.” When asked if he had anything positive to say about Scientology, he responded, “Do I wear a sensible hat?”
The 2010 Catholic Church Farewell Tour kicks off in London on June 1 and continues throughout the year on all seven continents. For a full list of dates and locations, please visit www.vatican.va.
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