HEAVEN—The soul of Pope John Paul, which entered heaven last week following a long illness, expressed confusion and disappointment Saturday, upon learning that the Celestial Kingdom of God to which the departed faithful ascend in the afterlife is significantly less luxurious than the Vatican's Papal Palace, in which the pope spent the past 26 years of his earthly life.
"Where are all the marble statues, sterling-silver chalices, and gem-encrusted scepters?" the visibly disappointed pope asked. "Where are the 60-foot-tall stained-glass windows and hand-painted cupolas? Where are the elaborately outfitted ranks of Swiss Guards? Why isn't every single surface gilded? This is my eternal reward?"
Heaven, according to the New Testament, has "brilliance like a very costly stone... of pure gold, like clear glass..." with "twelve gates... each gate a single pearl." Yet the pope, who spoke from the afterlife, said heaven is nothing like the "solid-gold city" detailed at length by John of Patmos in the Book of Revelations.
"Evidently, the Bible was not intended to be taken literally, after all," John Paul II said. "Don't get me wrong: It's very nice up here—quite beautiful and serene. It's just not as fancy as what I'm accustomed to. If I'd known heaven was going to be like this, I would've taken one last tour through my 50 rooms of velvet-draped thrones and priceless oil paintings before saying 'Amen' and breathing my last."
According to the pope, heaven is merely a place of unending peace and happiness, wherein all the spirits of the Elect live together forever in perfect harmony and goodness, basking in the rays of God's divine love.
"Up here, everyone is equal," John Paul II said. "No one has to go through an elaborate bowing ritual when they greet me. And do you know how many times my ring has been kissed since I arrived? None. Up here, I'm mingling with tax collectors, fishermen, and whores. It's just going to take a little getting used to, is all."
The pope said it is amusing to think that he has been waiting for this "so-called Paradise" his entire life.
"I spent almost 84 years reciting novenas and Hail Marys to get to this restful place," John Paul II said. "If I'd wanted peace, quiet, and pretty clouds, I could've moved to the Italian Riviera. Frankly, this afterlife represents a significant drop in my standard of living."
"Well, they always said you can't take it with you," he added.