Pope Benedictine XIV today delivered a rather muddled Easter message in Rome today, causing much confusion amongst the thousands of faithful gathered there, and even some heckling.
'Ave Romani', the German said, 'today is Easter Sunday, and I stand here to remind you of the ancient pagan god called Easter, a god of fertility and rebirth. This is the time of the Spring Equinox, and the time of Easter. For thousands of years people have used eggs and rabbits as symbols of fertility and birth, and so, my fellow pagans, let us -'.
But he was interrupted by an aide in dark glasses, who quietly said to him: 'Your Holiness, you're not supposed to mention the pagan god Easter, or the ancient pagan traditions and rites of fertility. You're meant to somehow get idiots - I mean believers - to swallow the nonsense that the Spring Equinox is something to do with Jesus!'
'Ah yes', His Reverence mumbled to the crowd, 'er, sorry about that, was reading the wrong script. What I meant to say was Jesus just happened to come alive again, which is impossible, and happened to come alive at exactly the same time as pagans have celebrated Easter for thousands of years before Jesus was even born. Whew, lucky for me!' ['Don't these people know any history, or ever read any books?' 'Of course not, Herr Ratzinger, or they wouldn't be here today!']
'And please save up your money for Christmas, when I'll have another message for you. Which apart from 'give us yer money' will be to remind you that the Winter Solstice has been celebrated by European pagans for thousands of years before Jesus was born, yet amazingly Jesus just happened to be born on the same day as the solstice!'
'Would you Adam and Eve it? I don't, what a load of crap! Even the pagan traditions of decorating fir trees and eating and drinking huge dinners in December are as old as the human race, do me a favour!', and at this the aide took the Pope to one side.
'Look, pal', he said, 'we pay you good money to tell the people here that Jesus was the result of a virgin birth, on the same day as the Solstice, and was resurrected at the same time as the Spring Equinox. It says so in the Bible. Well, OK, it doesn't, but that's not the point!'
'What is the point then?', the Pope replied, and turning to the crowd he continued: 'Look, guys, it's all a great big lie, it's just the Church hijacking pagan festivals hundreds of years ago, and making up some baloney about them being to do with Jesus. I've had enough of this nonsense, I'm quitting and going to India to become a Buddhist.'
'Even the Protestants don't believe in this Easter crap - well, the Anglicans do, but they're just amateur Catholics. If you want to be pagans then be pagans, if you want to be Christians then be Christians, but please forget all this fake Christian Easter and Christmas stuff, it ain't true! Bye!', and His Holiness left the stage to boos and heckles from the crowd.
'What am I going to do now, when I come across a statue weeping?', one heckler shouted, 'and why isn't the Turin Shroud allowed to be seen any more?', another scientist yelled. 'Nobody would believe in the resurrection unless the Inquisition had mass-murdered people into believing it!', came from a Spaniard, and 'It's been proved that Jesus survived his own crucifixion, so put that in your Holy Pipe and smoke it!', came from millions of well-informed people across the world.
Pope Benedictine XIV was seen on the next plane to Mumbai. Dressed like a normal man. Like Jesus was.