His eyes blood-shot with holy wrath fired by holy writ, the latest bull released by the Vatican has gored the hopes of Catholic womankind around the world. Persistent rumors that Pope John Paul II was planning to end the ban on women priests were dashed by the furious charge, which bore down on equality for women and a host of other human rights issues.
The bull launched a frontal attack on "uppity females intent on undermining two-thousand years of divinely guided tradition." Then, with a deft ninety degree swing, it took a swipe at Catholic men who support their sisters, wives, and daughters in the quest for religious equality. Another turn, and the riled bull lowered its horns for a run at gays and lesbians, before taking deadly aim at anyone questioning the infallibility of the pope.
While there was nothing new in content, the tone of the papal document distinguished itself by an unprecedented candor bordering on rudeness. On the subject of permitting Catholic women to enter the priesthood, the bull snorted that immodest demands made by "female screech owls who have built nests within the venerable institution of the Church" are as old as original sin. Not afraid to mix metaphors, it denounced "these insatiable wenches" as the true heirs of Eve, the first of all fallen women, and accused them of trying to shove more apples down the throats of Catholic menfolk. The clergy, it announced, had been instructed to conduct a merciless sanitation campaign to remove all traces of owls' nests and droppings from their parish churches. "The stench of guano is an abomination before the Lord," roared the bullish paper, "to say nothing of the revolting sight and scent of mushy, moldy, maggot-infested apples picked from the forbidden tree of knowledge." Women were advised to be content with the inferior but comfortable status the Lord had seen fit to assign to their kind. Those who persisted in clamoring for "equality with the gender in which Jesus chose to incarnate" would not only fail to achieve their goals, but would risk eternal damnation to boot.
It remains to be seen whether this "broad"-side from on high will send Catholic women fleeing the church in droves. In the past, they have faithfully come back for more regardless of the abuse their male priests have heaped upon them in their sermons. John Paul's bull appears unconcerned about a possible backlash. "Catholic women are the sheep and the Church is their shepherd. It is ludicrous to believe that sheep will ever be elevated to the position of caring for the flock. That task is clearly reserved for human beings. It is equally ludicrous to predict that the sheep will some day abandon their shepherd. Such a display of initiative and independence would be contrary to the nature of sheep and women. "
While women who are not sufficiently sheepish were threatened with hellfire, their male cheerleaders fared a little better: their time in purgatory, threatened the bull, could be extended tenfold if they fail to rein in the women "whom God has placed under their care."
Having made short shrift of the equality issue, the bull zeroed in on gays and lesbians, who were said to be in double trouble: not only would they go to hell upon discarding their "sin-encrusted bodies," their hell would begin even before death: "They will die in the agony and disgrace of AIDS," which the Almighty had apparently invented just for them. (No explanation was given as to why the good Lord also smites tens of thousands of African children with the disease or, at the very least, makes orphans of them.
Without a hint of battle fatigue, the bull at last turned on anyone who might be tempted to object. "Those who insist on thinking for themselves and questioning authority are in fact denying the revealed truth of papal infallibullity. Such disbullief shall result in instant excommunication with all its well-known consequences."