Ending months of speculation, the world's second and fourth largest religions will merge on January 1, 2008. Leaders of both Roman Catholicism and Hinduism gave a joint press conference to announce formation of the new faith traded publicly as "Cathindu".
"This is a great day for believers in Cathinduism!" said Catholicism CEO Pope Benedict XVI, who will serve as president of a newly-formed corporate board. "Oh, there were difficulties, sure. Like convincing the 700 million former Hindus to stop worshipping cows, and instead be more sensible and worship the ghost of some Jew who's been dead for 2,000 years. But now Cathindu, with its 1.815 billion adherents, has just become the world's biggest denomination. HA! In your face, Islam!"
"Yes, this merger was a natural." agreed former Hinduism CFO Ashur du Smelbad, now VP for marketing of Cathindu. "The Sacrament of Confession was a system in breakdown, with its obsolete technology of hearing and absolving one sin at a time. But Hinduism, with its vast IT resources, has taken Confession online, absolving 7,875,240 sins per hour with a Sinner Satisfaction rate of 99.6%. We have even introduced such innovations as ExpressConfess for frequent sinners, and the option of having sins absolved by Maha, Vishnu or Shiva instead of Christ." [Indeed, religion industry analysts hint that such outsourcing was Catholicism's real reason for seeking the merger.]
But not everyone was happy over the news. "Merger, my ass! It's a buyout." grumbled Brahma, one of about 8 million Hindu gods to be laid off. "There used to be, technically, at least one god for every Hindu family. And we were damn GOOOOD! We're talking prayers answered on a dedicated line, here!"
"You got that right, Brahma" agreed the goddess Lakshmi, waving her four arms for emphasis. "But you just watch what happens to their customer service now that they've cut us down to our last 150,000 gods!"
Such dissatisfaction almost derailed the merger. Hindu negotiators, who felt the downsizing was affecting them disproportionally, nearly walked out. To appease them Catholicism also laid off one-third of The Trinity. The Holy Ghost having been given his pink slip, it's now The Duality.
But the Hindu gods dismissed that as a token gesture. They stalled the negotiations until Catholicism grudgingly agreed to continue offering Reincarnation as an customer option, along with Heaven. With the Hindus smugly chanting, "Why be a born-again Christian, when you can be a born-again and again and again and again and again Hindu?" both sides finally signed off on the deal.
Surprisingly, the merger been well-received in the Muslim world. As Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf explains: "The Indians became both Christian AND Hindu? Great! Now we can hate them two ways at once!"