Everyone’s favorite Pope around town, Benedict XVI has declared jihad on a threat to the unity of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. This threat comes from… Satan… I guess?… and carries with it the potential for leading god’s flock straight into the bowels of hell, to be digested slowly along with pre-chewed bits of Devil’s food cake and Deviled Ham.
What is this unholy hand grenade? No less than the perfidious blight on humanity that is… people who think they see the Virgin Mary in toast or in the window or in the shape of a potato or other stuff like that! These people have been seeing Mary for too long, and da Pope is having no more of it! (And no, this is not a joke. Well… it is a joke, but it’s not mine.) To this end da Pope is publishing a handbook to better arm bishops with the tools to tell the difference between real sightings of Jesus, Mary, and Mary’s house-cat Sam — and fake sightings of them.
The reason why this is seen as a threat to church unity is that all communication from god is supposed to come from within the church itself. Regular people, the kind who spot Christ in the foam in their latte, aren’t actually qualified to see god or have any direct chit-chat with him. If they did, folks might begin to question why they needed a church to talk to god for them at all. Therefore, the handbook.
The handbook lists a number of steps for bishops to take in the determination of whether a sighting is real or not, the first of which is to tell the victim individual to shut the hell up about it. If they tell anyone else, the sighting is false.
After that the church will send teams of psychiatrists to judge their mental state. Everyone knows that deities don’t talk to crazy people, and if you really hear god whispering in your ear or you see Mary in the shower with you, you must be utterly sane. If not, the sighting is false.
After this a bunch of researchers will be sent in to determine what kind of education you have, and whether or not you might ever have looked at anything suggesting that someone could falsify a sighting of Jesus. If you are too well educated, the sighting is false. (God may only talk to the mentally stable, but he also only speaks to the deeply ignorant.)
Finally the exorcists are sent for. Mary on toast may be delightful and benign, but it may be unholy and terrifying. You don’t know. God and Satan are all the same to you. Only the real experts like the Vatican demonologists (how can I get that job?) can tell the difference. Only they can tell you if your toast is blessed, or very, very evil. If these experts determine that Satan is behind the Mary on your toast, then the sighting is false.
I think the thing that gets me the most about all this is that a bunch of adult men sat around talking about this stuff and — in all earnestness — wrote and published a book on the subject. It would be like me writing a book about which TV stations really were tracking Santa on their weather radar on Christmas Eve and which ones were trying to drag your soul off to hell by faking it. These people have more money than Bill Gates and all they can think to do with it is pick on gay people and folks trying to sell a funny-looking potato on eBay. I grew up around Catholics. I have Catholic friends now. I spent three years in a Catholic school… and I still don’t know anyone who takes all this stuff seriously.
So Pope Benny, I have only one thing I want to say to you, about this and all your other “pronouncements.”
Get a real job.