The media world is in a frenzy after secret Vatican documents were discovered that appeared to show Pope Benedict XVI was chosen specifically to 'take the rap' for church excesses in recent decades.
"Given Joseph Ratzinger's advanced age and his earlier links with Hitler's Nazis he is the perfect candidate for our plans." reads one paragraph of the document which continued by stating, "Following his election, judiciously placed media 'leaks' can be used to discredit him personally and implicate him as the 'ring leader' in church abuses of power."
The rationale behind the plot is thought to be the expectation that Pope Benedict would only have a few years in office before his death allowed the election of a new Pope.
The marketing department could then swing into action from a 'clean slate' starting position and 're-brand' the church as a 'Born Again Christianity' taking full advantage of the massive increase in the popularity of 'Evangelical' movements across the world.
The Pope immediately denounced the document as a 'vile' forgery but members of the Papal Conclave who elected Ratziner as 'Bishop of Rome' in 2005 were strangely unavailable for comment.
"The 'scapegoat' principle is one of the underlying principles of the church's teachings and can be traced back to the original Jesus 'myth'." said one church commentator, "A plan such as this would make perfect doctrinal sense."
A key problem with the plan is that Ratzinger may live longer than the plotters originally intended. He has already been in office for 5 years without any signs of ailing health, something which must be causing them some concern.
A secret meeting late last night with a man who claims to be the head of the church purchasing department provided one possible solution to this dilemma. "The death of the Pope is traditionally confirmed by the Cardinal Camerlengo, or Chamberlain, who performs this task by gently striking the Pope's head three times with a small silver hammer." he explained.
"I'm not saying there is any connection but I've just been asked to purchase a 15 pound silver sledgehammer. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions!"
A senior historian in Rome agreed that, given the mysterious and unexplained deaths of so many previous popes, the man's shocking revelation could not be lightly dismissed.