After the shock retirement of Benedict XVI – the first in a thousand years – Pope Francis has announced an equally astounding move. He has decided to be cryogenically preserved.
The Pope will be frozen and dispatched to a special Pontifical Preservation Centre in Southern California where he will await the resurrection of the body (not at the last day, but at a time decided by scientists, and a specially convened consistory of cardinals).
He will then resume his role as patriarch of a thoroughly modern Church, where the Spirit of Vatican II has eliminated all rigidity and cant; where, unembarrassed and unencumbered by the past, people will live the vision of Mercy and Love set out by St Walter of Tubingen, the great theologian and pastor of the early twenty-first century.
A Vatican spokesperson has told reporters that the Holy Father has every confidence in the technology involved. ‘We reckon he has at least a fifty-fifty chance, which has got to be better than the alternative. He expects to be known as Pope Francis II, and will be the only Pope in history to succeed himself. We have seen the future and it works.’