Vatican City, Monday
Vatican sources today confirmed the rumor that Pope John Paul II last week experienced problems with his laptop computer, causing him to castigate the Windows XP operating system and the founder and Chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates.
According to these sources, the 86-year-old Pontiff was apparently attempting to enter the third level of Doom III when the operating system crashed, displaying the infamous "Blue Screen of Death", well-known to Windows users worldwide. Subsequent attempts to reboot the computer seem to have failed, resulting every time in the message: "Your mouse has moved. Please restart your computer for this hardware change to take effect." The Pope, typically noted for his hard line on matters such as contraception and population control, but his tolerance of computer operating systems, is then reported to have thrown the computer to the ground and jumped on it repeatedly, supposedly following the seventh appearance of this message.
Sister Tachycardia of the Order of St. Clarence, personal aromatherapist to His Holiness, reported, "I was in the next room when I heard a crash and a series of bangs, followed by some words in Polish. I don't speak Polish, and I am very glad that I don't, because the Holy Father was probably saying something he shouldn't have been saying, even if he is the Holy Father."
Monsignor Alfredo de Pomodoro, who has acted as the Pope's personal IT consultant for a number of years, added, "I received an urgent message on my pager from Sister Tachycardia, and rushed to His Holiness. The computer itself was a wreck -- those papal slippers may not look like much, but they can trash a hard disk drive in only a few minutes. The Holy Father was speaking in Italian by the time I reached him. I couldn't make out much, though, except that he was commenting that Windows XP was "diabolical" and those responsible for its design, development and marketing were the "spawn of Satan".
Given that the Pope's pronouncements are often regarded by the Catholic Church as coming from an infallible source, this development poses problems for Church members, and for the Catholic Church itself.
Cardinal Ricardo Uomo, Chief Technology Officer of the Vatican Bank, complained that "we have just updated our commodity futures derivatives trading programs to work with Windows XP. Now he [His Holiness] tells us this is all the work of the Devil. What am I meant to do? Pour holy water in the drives, or install Linux or something? Sure, we've had a few problems with the licensing scheme, but I wouldn't go as far as the Boss has done. I wish he would leave well alone and not meddle with things he doesn't understand. If anyone's going to excommunicate the Microsoft QA team, I think it should be the Vatican technologists."
On Wall Street, major securities house Streep Merrill faced chaos, as Catholic workers on the bond trading floor refused to use their computers until they were replaced with new iMacs. "And they all want matching pink mini iPods," moaned one manager. "There's no way we can get all pink ones -- some of them will just have to make do with green."
Bill Gates was unavailable for comment "until the new moon", according to a Microsoft spokesman.