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Vatican Putting Out Feelers For How Public Would React To Another Children’s Crusade

VATICAN CITY—Saying they had been giving some thought recently to the idea of sending legions of Christian boys and girls to retake the Holy Land and wanted to gauge the level of support, Vatican officials reportedly began putting out feelers Wednesday to determine how the public might react to another Children’s Crusade, much as was attempted in the year 1212.

John Kerry Scrambles To Stop Bunker’s Self-Destruct Sequence As Russian Oligarch Taunts Him From Bank Of Monitors

BOGDARNYA, RUSSIA—Working frantically to gain access to the system’s override settings at the computer terminal controlling the impending implosion, Secretary of State John Kerry scrambled to stop the self-destruct sequence of an underground bunker located thousands of feet below the Russian countryside Tuesday while oligarch Dmitry Granovsky taunted him from the numerous banks of monitors positioned throughout the facility, sources confirmed.

Islamic Awakening Inspires Man To Defect From ISIS

MOSUL, IRAQ—Telling reporters he had renounced his role as a militant and would soon be relocating in order to seek out an environment more conducive to fully devoting himself to his newfound religious faith, 24-year-old Huzaifa Quraishi confirmed Tuesday his recent Islamic awakening had inspired him to defect from ISIS.

CIA Orchestrates Coup D’État To Replace Entire Population Of Venezuela

Agency Installs Pro-American Populace Of 30 Million Venezuelan Citizens

CARACAS, VENEZUELA—Sources are confirming that the Central Intelligence Agency has orchestrated a coup d’état in the South American nation of Venezuela, toppling the country’s 30 million residents and replacing them with an entirely new, pro-American populace.

A Primer On North Korea

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remains largely unknown to Americans due mainly to the secrecy and isolationism upheld by its government. The Onion provides a primer on North Korea’s people and culture

‘People Are Inherently Good,’ World Halfheartedly Mutters

NICE, FRANCE—Following yesterday’s terrorist attack in Nice, France that left over 80 people dead and scores more injured, sources reported that a dazed and utterly dejected global populace halfheartedly muttered the phrase “People are inherently good” to themselves Friday.

Louvre Curators Hurry To Display Ugly Van Gogh Donor Gave Them Before Surprise Visit

PARIS—After retrieving the eyesore from amid a clutter of unused display cases and movable stanchions in the back of the facility’s basement where it had been stowed ever since the museum received it, curators at the Louvre hurried to display an ugly Vincent van Gogh painting before the artwork’s donor made a surprise visit to the museum Friday.
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Pope To Ease Up On Jesus Talk

Pontiff Trying To Be Not So In-Your-Face With That Stuff

VATICAN CITY—Acknowledging that he has perhaps been laying it on a little thick with the religion stuff lately, Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday that he was making a concerted effort to take all his incessant Jesus talk down a notch.

The Supreme Pontiff admits that, overall, his sermons and public addresses have been a little Jesus-heavy.

Though he reassured followers that he was still the head of the 1.1 billion–member Roman Catholic Church and an unwavering believer in the divinity of Christ, the pope suggested he might have an easier time communicating with people if he wasn't up in everyone's face about Jesus all the time.

"I just want to rein it in a smidge," Benedict said. "While I alone among men have been chosen to represent the Son of God upon this earth, I've found that if you have a big chip on your shoulder about something like that, it can be pretty alienating to people."

"I'd like to think I can be an infallible ecclesiastical authority without ramming it down people's throats," the pope said. "I'm starting to realize what a huge turn-off that is."

In a routine papal blessing Sunday at St. Peter's Square, Benedict made far fewer mentions of Jesus than usual and only cited scripture twice, opting instead for such uncharacteristic phraseology as "Sorry if this sounds preachy," "I'm not here to judge," and "Hey, this works for me, but by all means, feel free to do your own thing, too."

Benedict said the turning point came for him last week with the publication of book two in his New York Times–bestselling Jesus Of Nazareth trilogy, a series the pope now claims he should have ended after the first book.

The pope says all of the graphic depictions of Christ's crucifixion are coming off "a bit morbid and creepy."

"I'm flipping though this thing and I'm thinking, 'Man, I sound like a broken record, don't I?'" said Benedict, opening to a random page of the new book and pointing out a "crazy" number of references to the Son of God. "It's just Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Page after page of nothing but Jesus. Who wants to read that?"

To temper his past hyperbole with regard to Jesus, the Supreme Pontiff said he is now at work on an encyclical in which he will call upon Catholics to relax a little and not treat every aspect of church doctrine "as if it were the end-all, be-all of the whole universe or something."

Benedict added that his staff is exploring options for scaling back the opulent Vatican into something that, while still glorifying to God, isn't quite so over-the-top about it. The pope said he also hoped to tone down some of the more grandiose aspects of his own appearance, noting that some might find his extravagant wardrobe of luxurious, hand-woven cassocks and velvet capes to be off-putting.

Tugging at his heavily embroidered vestments, Benedict said, "These robes, this hat. It's a bit much, right? I don't see why I can't just go to a beatification ceremony or a papal audience wearing a nice dress shirt and some slacks: It's respectful, it's dignified, but it's not like I'm going in with guns blazing, either."

Benedict has gone so far as to compose an edict to all Catholic clergy urging them to follow his example and maybe dial the religion back a click or two.

"Please, definitely keep giving your sermons and celebrating the Lord," Benedict wrote in his official decree. "But play it mellow with the Jesus material—give it some room to breathe, you know? Trust me, you'll get your point across better if you're not so heavy-handed."

Vatican sources confirmed many within the pope's inner circle were deeply concerned by this new philosophy, but others told reporters they have come around to the lighter-on-the-Jesus approach after initial doubts.

"I was worried at first," Cardinal Lorenzo Antonetti said. "Then His Holiness reassured me that whatever words he chose, birth control, abortion, homosexuality, and the distribution of condoms in starving, AIDS-ravaged nations would always remain abominations. That calmed all my fears."

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