VATICAN CITY. Pope Benedict XVI today offered Anglicans a menu of promotional giveaways intended to lure them into becoming Catholics, including free wi-fi and downloads from the Church’s 2000-year-old catalog of sacred music.
“If you get somebody to switch salvation providers, it’s worth the up-front costs,” said Rev. Claus Nordstruff who covers religious marketing for Sectarian Ad World. “People will generally stick to a new faith for the full three-year contract, unless they’re de-programmed.”
” . . . and I filled it up with Holy Water for you!”
While the promotional items will be available only to individual worshippers, the Pope is also looking to entice corporate accounts away from the Anglican Church, which operates under the “Episcopalian” brand in the U.S. “People are leaving the old-line WASPy churches in droves,” said Father Emil de Silva of Fall River, Mass. “They’re alarmed by a liberal agenda that includes everything from gay priests to Friday-night church basement sock hops.”
The wholesale conversion of an Episcopalian Congregation could run aground if a parish priest is married, since the Catholic Church has a long-standing policy of sacerdotal celibacy, and try saying that five times fast.
“Many people would like the Pope to butt out on the grounds that ‘You no playa the game you no make-a the rules’” said Rev. Gino Concetti, theological commentator for L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s newspaper. “Those-a people who-a say that don’t know the Pope, he’s-a German, and they musta getta they crummy Italian accents from Chico Marx.”
The Vatican is expected to issue a statement affirming the Church’s traditional ban on married priests, but offering Episcopalian priests who are married a “mulligan” or do-over. “The Pope is gonna let them back in,” Concetti predicted, “but if they get married a second time–boom! Out they go!”
A “mulligan” is a term used by American golfers for a second shot that is granted to a duffer who flubs his drive from the tee. “It’s a standard courtesy among amateur golfers,” says Jim Howell, golf pro at Belleview Country Club in suburban Chicago.
“It’s especially appropriate for married guys,” Howell notes. “Whenever I have an affair with a member’s wife I tell the two to forgive and forget–to give each other a mulligan–and start over. After a few days the husband usually calms down if I give him good tee times on the weekend.”