The Pope has announced he will change his name after admitting that his current title "Benedict XVI" just isn't "catchy enough to make an impression on the world stage". He now wishes to be addressed instead as "His Holiness Pope Jesus".
The German born Pontiff revealed, "you wouldn't believe the amount of people I've heard calling me "Pope Ratzinger" or, worse still, "that new Pope... whats-his-face". One idiot, I forget who it was, called me "Pope Bernard". It's getting ridiculous. And it's not just lay people either, I've had Cardinals - yes cardinals - call me "Joseph". Obviously they still think of me as one of them. Well let me tell you, that's all going to change coz you're now talkin' to the new Pope Jesus".
If he goes through with the name change, Joseph Ratzinger will make history on two counts. Firstly, he will he be the first acting Pontiff to change title during a papacy. Pope Francis III (served 1634-1645)changed his name to Pope John The Baptist but only after he was abdicated for stealing incense from the Vatican pantry (underneath the marble staircase).
Perhaps more intriguingly, he will also become the first Pontiff to call himself after our Lord and Saviour although rumour has it Pope Pius IX was sorely tempted to do this after someone mistakenly enscribed "Pope Pius VIII" on a bronze sculpture of him. Apparently he was livid and had the engraver hung from the Sistine Chapel ceiling - a punishment fashionable for heretics to undergo at the time.
The Pope has been explaining to curious Catholics why he chose the name of the son of God and founder of Chrisitianity and not some other name.
"Why not? That's what I say. I mean, for me, Jesus Christ is probably the holiest man of all time... definitely top-five anyway... almost certainly top-three. I mean I know people talk about Moses with the tablet and the commandments and everything, but for me Jesus wins hands down every time. One question -did Moses die for our sins? Well.......? Enough said".
Smiling to the point of giddiness, he went on, "Think of the instant respect I would gain from Christians the world over once I'm called Pope Jesus. I can't lose. I could have people coming up to me and saying "Excuse me Pope Jesus, can I kiss your feet?" I can't even remember the last time a stranger offered to even wash my feet let alone kiss them. This is going to be great".
The Pope is also hopeful that having a title as holy as Jesus will shoot him straight to the top of Time Magazine's annual "World's Most Spiritual Spiritual Leader" list. The Dalai Lama topped this year's poll, ending the brilliant but recently deceased Pope John Paul II's six year reign at the "summit of Mt. Divinity". Needless to say, Pope Jesus will be keen to bring the title back to the Vatican. And with a name like Pope Jesus who'd bet against him?
"And to think there were 15 other idiots before me who chose the same name. God what were they thinking? What the hell was I thinking?"
With the mounting challenge of "weird outsider" religions such as Islam and Buddhism and the continuing strength of orthodox forms of Christianity, the Pope is hopeful that young people will "turn their heads towards the words of Jesus, i.e me".
"You may bet there will be a lot of Protestants converting to Catholicism in the forthcoming year. The Archbishop of Canterbury doesn't sound so hot when you put it beside Pope Jesus...ooohhh yeah. He might consider changing his title too."
Despite wallowing in his own ingeniousness for choosing this new name, his Holiness concedes he is at a "complete loss" to explain why he chose a crappy name like Benedict XVI in the first place.
He said, "actually the more I think about it the more I think what a ridiculous name Pope Benedict XVI is. God knows what I was smoking when I chose that. I mean Benedict for Christ's sake! Benedict! Who the hell was Benedict!? Probably the Patron Saint of some crappy country like, I don't know, Zambia or something. And to think there were 15 other idiots before me who chose the same name. God what were they thinking? What the hell was I thinking?"
Critics have called into question the appropriateness of the Pontiff's decision coming more than 9 months into his tenure in the Vatican hotseat.
They argue that the Roman Catholic Church has been "clearly rocked" by widespread indifference to the Pope's first encyclical published this week. In it in, he uses obscure Greek phrases like "Eros", son of Aphrodite, instead of using more popular terms like "sex" or "fuck". They speculate that this in part has prompted such desperate action - namely this name change".
Renowned British theologian, Gregory Bishop-To- G4, revealed misgivings about the Pope's plan.
"Papal Doctrine set down that "any Pope who determines crappiness of chosen title, for the greater good said Pope is encouraged to elect an alternative name."
"I really can't see a good reason for this name change. Jesus Christ was unique, a complete once- off, a "freak" if you will. I mean who else could cure lepors with such effortless aplomb and still have time himself for resurrection from a 3 day period of utter deadness. Is our man in the Vatican trying to suggest he can turn water into wine too? Who does he think he is... David Blaine? I'm afraid all that papal infallibilty has gone to his head."
What Bishop-To-G4 failed to point out is that it is precisely this infallibilty that renders the Pope's change of title legal and by definition "welcome".
Papal Doctrine set down that "any Pope who determines Crappiness of chosen title, for the greater good said Pope is encouraged to elect an alternative name as long as said name is comparitively or more holy". One can see how "Jesus" fitted the bill ideally.
In addition, "the powers of the pope are defined by the Dogmatic Constitution (ch.3, s.8) such that "he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all cases which fall under ecclesiastical jurisdiction recourse may be had to his judgement". So lets all hail Pope Jesus.