THE VATICAN (Reuters) —The Catholic world is in upheaval and confusion after an announcement today by Bishop Richard Williamson and Pope Benedict that Jesus, contrary to centuries of church doctrine, did not in fact die on the cross as was previously taught.
Said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, papal spokesman: “The length and width of the cross was such that an average human being could not have supported himself for three hours in that position. Moreover, given our metallurgical analysis of nails used in Roman times, and the anatomical structure of the human hand, the tissue would have torn immediately upon raising the cross.”
Echoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s scathing rebuke of the Vatican, the British head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, issued a written statement that the Pope was an “anus horribilis.” About to deliver the keynote address at the 2009 Papua, New Guinea Food and Nutrition Conference, Prince Philip made an unusual personal announcement.
“Although Benedict and I are on a first-name basis, we must take exception to his recent statements.
“We British do not subscribe to any sort of race-hate or religious invective. The British Empire was founded on the principle of equality among and respect between all peoples. It does not matter in Britain which type of Christianity you believe in.”
He refused to comment on recent tabloid photographs of Prince Harry at a party dressed as a Roman centurion.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on a speaking tour through several southern states in the United States, was asked briefly by a reporter for a response to Benedict’s pronouncement.
“We don’t do popes,” Blair replied. A trusted source added: “Toe is scared to death of being voted out of the Catholic Church. He’ll say or do anything to prevent that from happening.”
French opposition leader Jean-Marie Le Pen issued the following statement: “We deeply regret and reject the Pope’s recent report. Let us hope that it soon shall be regarded as nothing more than a footnote in history.”
Says Martin Gregory of London, whose home has become a local shrine after an asparagus fern with the image of Jesus was found in his garden, “I haven’t seen a drop-off in the number of pilgrims.” When asked to speculate why, he said, “The people who come here don’t just think something because somebody like the Pope tells them to think it. We make up our minds based on facts and evidence.”
“We applaud the Pope for taking this first, brave step toward acknowledging that invisible beings do not hold sway in our Universe,” wrote Ian Robinson, president of the Rationalist Society of Australia, via email. The Society cancelled a major press conference yesterday because Robinson is under observation in hospital for what may be a bacterial infection. Next week, the Society unveils its new ad campaign, with the slogan: “Black Holes? Really?”
The Spartacus League of Britain, as expected, was most vocal in its opposition to the religious decree. “It’s utter bollocks to say a man can’t hang from a cross. We know one man who did. And it’s not the man who talks to fig trees,” said League Central Committee Co-Facilitator Eibhlin McDonald. In one of their largest demonstrations in decades, forty-five members of the Communist League paraded through Trafalgar Square with placards reading: “I am Jesus.”
In related news, Liechtenstein has recalled its ambassador to the Holy See. A spokesman said, “This has nothing to do with the Pope’s statements. We just figured out the Vatican is not a real country.”
Jonathan David Farley
Dr. Jonathan David Farley, is the 2004 Harvard Foundation Distinguished Scientist of the Year. He is currently Teaching and Research Fellow teaching mathematics at the Institut für Algebra Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Linz Österreich.