Monday, September 18, 2006
Pope Offers Apology To World Muslims: "I'm Sorry You're All Muslim"
ROME- Following a firestorm of controversy ignited by a speech in which Pope Benedict XVI referred to Islam as "evil and inhuman," the pontiff has offered an unprecedented personal apology to the world's Muslims.

In a statement issued by the Pope's personal secretary, Benedict expressed regret at causing the furor in the first place, noting that the words used weren't his, but merely a citation from a medieval source he was quoting in a speech he gave. In his defense, it should be noted that the Vatican library only has two ancient non-Biblical texts from which to quote, the one he chose last week and an early-16th century manuscript of what would become The Da Vinci Code. Turns out the objection to the book and 2006 film were more of a copyright infringement thing.

Taking his cue from politicians who get caught being racist, the Pope in his statement expressed "regret if anyone was offended by [his] comments." When pressed about whether or not the limp wording actually constituted an apology, the Pope gave one of those Italian rude gestures where you flick your fingers off the underside of your chin, was heard to say "Ah, they're all going to hell anyway" and then strangled an altar-boy to death with his bare hands.

Further along in the official statement of "Apology" (their quotation marks), the Papal Office points out that "while it is true that martyrs to the Muslim cause are met by 72 virgins in the afterlife, it is important to note why these women are still virgins. Biblical research reveals that it is not because they did not want to have sexual intercourse, but merely that they have had their vaginas soldered shut by the white-hot tears of angels (Ecclesiastes 11:16-24). And everyone knows there's nothing an angel loves more than a good practical joke that torments the victim for all eternity."

The Pope expounded on that point, noting: "You think it's bad living with a woman who menstruates once a month, try living with one who gets her period with a sewn-up hoo-ha." Observers noted Benedict inclining his head and winking to nonverbally indicate his personal valet, Sister Mary Bernardine.

The strength of his apology notwithstanding, the admission of error, or even any statement to clarify a position, is almost entirely novel among pontiffs, who for centuries operated on the assumption of "Papal Infallibility." For instance, if a Pope had ever expressed the idea that all gays would be turned into pillars of salt at midnight, they would. Unless they didn't, in which case a commission would be empanelled that would be directed to find that the Pope had been speaking metaphorically and that no jokes should be made with the words "salt lick" in them.

The shift into the contrition business, usually reserved for worshippers among Catholics, is a reflection of the Vatican's sensitivity to new geo-political realities. In the old days, a Pope could say what he wanted about Islam, comfortable in the fact that there were several well-armed kingdoms between them and Mecca. In fact, a snap of his fingers and whole nations would march out on Crusade. This of course explains the disaster of 1920s pontiff Clement XXVII, the first jazz pope. Very quickly in his reign he learned to tap his foot to the beat instead.

Medieval Islamic armies, at the height of Muslim political expansion, made it as far as Vienna as recently as 1683 before they were turned back. In the age of horse transport, still a comfortable buffer distance from Rome. But in the days of individual suicide bombers and hijacked planes flying into buildings of cultural and political import, the Vatican seems to be taking a pro-active retroactive approach to this controversy which amounts to "That's not what I said, please don't blow us up." That seems cowardly until you consider that the Pope is only protected by a select few elite guards from Switzerland. You'd be sorry too if you relied on pacifists to do your fighting.



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