As the climax of its celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Vatican today unveiled its new, automated, electronic Pontiff, ROBOPOPE.
This fully sanctified device will tour St Peter’s Square every hour on the hour encountering unsuspecting tourists and indiscriminately imparting mercy. ‘Unlike the contentious Indulgences of old’, said a Vatican spokesperson, ‘no payment will be required. This mercy is absolutely free; nor does it impose any obligations’.
The machine, a commanding figure in white vestments with its arms raised in perpetual benediction, has been programmed to speak in twenty-seven different languages and Esperanto. It can utter such phrases as:
‘Blessings upon you’
‘Let us work together for peace in the world’
‘My child, you are forgiven’
‘Let us walk together in renewed understanding’
‘Who am I to judge?’
‘RoboPope,’ says Cardinal Walter Kasper, ‘is truly a Pope for the twenty-first century, a listening Pope, a compassionate Pope. Already it is receiving requests for pastoral visits all over the world. The next step must surely be the mechanisation of the College of Cardinals!’