The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has followed the lead of Pope Francis in offering indulgences for those who follow him on Twitter. There was widespread head-scratching earlier in the week at the announcement by the Vatican that the Papal court handling pardons for sins had ruled that contrite Catholics could gain ‘indulgences’ by following World Youth Day on Twitter.
The Anglican model is slightly different, as the doctrine of Purgatory and Indulgences are among those doctrines which the Church of England has discarded since its break from Rome. However, Archbishop Welby, sensing an opportunity for an easy win to please his home crowd, has ruled that PCC members who follow @ABCJustin or @LambethPalace on Twitter will be able to download a voucher allowing them to leave PCC meetings after the first 90 minutes, even if they are the vicar.
A spokesperson for the Church of England said, “Like the Orthodox Church, we do not have a doctrine of Purgatory in the Church of England. Our official line is that this Roman idea ‘is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God’. However, the Pope’s concept of Twitter-bribes to get his follower count up looked good to us. Who among the Anglican flock has not been trapped in an epic PCC meeting where having what amounts to a ‘Go home or to the pub’ card from the Archbishop of Canterbury would not have been a blessed relief from torment?.”
There were gasps of surprise around the world as the Conclave inadvertently elected Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Supreme Governor of the Church of England as Pope.
It emerged overnight that Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had left a copy of the Falklands referendum ballot papers near the Sistine Chapel office photocopier. A Vatican intern mistakenly copied and distributed these among the Cardinals, assuming them to be Papal ballot slips. Cardinals noticed the slips looked rather different to usual but assumed that this was merely an innovation of Pope Benedict. They then voted overwhelmingly in favour of “political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom”. As the vote of 99.8% in favour was well over the two thirds majority required for papal election, this triggered immediate white smoke over the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church announcing the election of the Supreme Governor of the Church of England – Queen Elizabeth II – as Pope.
A clearly distressed Emeritus Pope (who wished to remain anonymous) said, “This is not what I had in mind at all. However, God moves in mysterious ways.”
Thanks to Claire Gibbs for this one!
Sources close to the Vatican have hinted at the surprise anointing of former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams as the new Pope when Benedict XVI steps down at the end of the month. Following the shock announcement of Pope Benedict’s retirement, the first occasion a Pope has resigned in over 600 years, it was clear to outsiders that something of great significance was afoot in the See of Rome.
The key issue turns out to be one of ecumenism and practical interdenominational politics rather than theology. The appointment of Williams as Pope is seen by the Vatican as a way to build bridges towards greater Church unity, but not only with the Anglican Communion as might be assumed. As one Cardinal put it, “There is a great drive towards greater unity with the Orthodox Church, but the greatest stumbling block to progress has been that of facial hair. Basically, all the Orthodox and Coptic Metropolitans and Popes have lush beards and have teased our Popes for centuries that our Roman balls haven’t dropped yet and we can’t grow a decent beard between the lot of us. We’re sick of it, frankly, and since none of our Cardinals have decent beards, appointing known beardy Rowan Williams to exercise the Petrine ministry will get ecumenical dialogue on a more grown-up footing. And it will confuse the Ordinariate no end which amuses many of us here, too.”
Another known Anglican beardy, the blogger Archbishop Cranmer was unavailable for comment as he was turning too fast in his grave to type.
In view of the surprise resignation of the Pope here is a little ditty that can be played at his leaving do!