VATICAN CITY. As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio prepares to become Pope Francesco I, his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI today revealed the closely-guarded secret as to why he shocked the world by stepping down as Vicar of Christ on earth; the heavy demands of the papacy had severely limited his ability to compete at high-level air guitar competitions.
“I don’t have an air guitar with me, but if someone else does, I’d be happy to show you a few chords.”
“Benedict is a huge air guitar nut, but his playing has suffered because of all the time he has to spend healing lepers and arguing stupid theological issues,” said Cardinal Francis Arinze. “He’s been stuck at the Steve Miller level for years, but he has the capacity to perform a Stevie Ray Vaughan solo with enough practice.”
Benedict is the first pope to resign since 1415, although Ronnie Wood replaced Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones in 1975. The now “emeritus” pope is said to have become conscious of his own mortality following the recent death of Ten Years After lead guitarist Alvin Lee, who had given Benedict the air guitar strings he used when playing a memorable solo at the Woodstock Festival in 1969.
Air guitar is a form of pantomime in which a Catholic prelate pretends to play rock or heavy-metal guitar solos with exaggerated strumming while saying a rosary.
Benedict, who will be 86 next month, is a long-time admirer of Eric Clapton, whom many blues-rock fans believe to be God. “I’ve been trying to master the solo in ‘White Room’ for four decades,” he told Air Guitar Player magazine last year. “It’s tricky–you have to keep your hands going and pump the air Wah-Wah pedal with your foot at the same time.”