Today’s Times offers a bit of an ‘open door’, for a deal of timely Papal comic relief. The article gets off to a cracking start when it informs us that: The Pope will fly off into history when he leaves the Vatican by helicopter this afternoon. Well it is theVATICAN POPE 21st century, but I am still somewhat disappointed that His Holiness can not come up with a more biblical form of transport into eternity. But then that’s the point, I suppose – everyone of us, the Pope included, is framed by the time we spend on the Earthly Pile. Nevertheless I would still have liked a donkey to feature, if a staircase to Heaven was not available. Apparently, The Times reports, in his final address yesterday: the 85 year pontiff denied claims that he was climbing down from the Cross before he dies… saying that “I am not abandoning the Cross but will stay…(on it)…in a new way”! The gymnastics of this manoeuvre aside, which Vatican spin doctor came up with this mind-boggling concept? Has he removed the nails but is hanging onto the construction in some way? Come off it Benedict, (apparently, in retirement, Herr Ratzinger will be keeping his papal name), literally and metaphorically! The Times then goes on to inform us that: despite reports that he has gone blind in his left eye and has trouble walking, he read his address…and climbed the steps onto his Mercedes Popemobile unaided. A Mercedes, huh! This surely must be one of the most expensive product placements that has taken place in the History Of Promotions (Volumes 1 – Eternity). And it wasn’t just the Pope who was staking his claim to eternity as The Times reported that watching The Pope yesterday was “The experience of a lifetime” said Johnny Cash, just arrived from Nottingham. Wow, that’s where he’s been! Obvious really – where else would Rock-and-Roll heaven be? The Times then goes on to tell us that: A Vatican spokesman said he would no longer wear the Pope’s famous red loafer shoes but would take with him a brown pair given to him on his last visit to Mexico. At this point I am beginning to suspect the fellow on the Vatican Desk must be en route to Rome and that a journo from Hello! is subbing in while the official chap is in transit. But hold on a minute, what is being said here? Perhaps this is not a ‘fashion moment’ but something we really need to take some serious note of. Can it be that no (non-papal) mortal is permitted into God’s Waiting Room, (a.k.a. Tauranga – gag for my NZ reader), wearing red? Apparently, the ex-pope will take with him his two personal assistants…along with four nuns who cook and clean for him. I will not take up the opportunity to tell the full version of that old Pope gag that ends with the punch line: “Make sure that she has big breasts” but I am halted in my tracks by the information that: other than books and personal papers the Pope will take little more with him than a simple wardrobe, his piano and his collection of ceramic cats. Surely never before in the History Of Religious Leaders (Volumes 1 – Eternity) have The Mysteries been so unclothed before the mortal flock? I leave the last words to Billy O’Keefe from Dublin who according to The Thunderer yesterday said of The Pope: “One of the best things he has done is what he did today, which is resigning” . Enough said?

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