THE VATICAN-In a move that has impressed observers with its new Conservative orientation, the Catholic Church under the new Pope Benedict XVl, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, has fully resurrected the medieval Holy Inquisition and assigned it to deal with Dan Brown, author of "The Da Vinci Code."
"It is never a bad thing to be extreme in the defense of one's faith," indicated the Papal Office in a written statement. "The Holy Inquisition has aggressively defended the True Faith in the past and now it is time for the institution to be fully revived to do it again and meet new challenges from fresh heretics." Observers note that the Holy Inquisition had never actually been ended, but had merely been renamed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, most recently under Cardinal Ratzinger.
The Church is particularly concerned at the extreme popularity of "The Da Vinci Code" and the imminent release of the movie version of the book with Tom Hanks and other stars.
Among other things, the book alleges that the Catholic Church falsely and knowingly denigrated Mary Magdalene as a prostitute in The Bible when in fact she was of noble birth, a leader of the early Christian Church, and also the wife of Jesus Christ, who was non-divine, and with whom she had children. The book also reveals why the Church tortured and burnt thousands of women at the stake.
"That book is the work of the Devil," stated the Pope, "even though it is factual and accurate according to virtually all experts not connected to the Church. Thus, the Holy Inquisition has added it to its Index of Forbidden Books, and will sponsor a public burning of hundreds of copies of it on St. Peter's Square. This is sure to draw many of the faithful."
With Church attendance plummeting due to the book and other factors, such radical measures are thought to be necessary to restore the shaken faith of Catholics and bring lapsed Catholics back into the fold.
"The new Holy Inquisition may also bring back the worthy and effective tradition of the Iron Maiden, the Rack, and the Auto da Fe," said the Papal statement, "although more modern methods now exist, like electricity and drugs. We are also re-adopting the Doctrine of Infallibility, greatly expanding the list of books to be banned and burned, and assigning the Holy Inquisition to aggressively deal with Dan Brown and others connected to his book and the movie."
Critics however wondered whether the new Conservatism of the Church was appropriate given the general modern age that it must now exist in. Yet such concerns were dismissed by the Vatican.
"We're also thinking about sponsoring new Crusades to help the Bush Administration obtain oil and squash Islamic freedom fighters who oppose American corporations," added a Vatican spokesman.