A poll taken by Premier Radio has shown that 49% of Catholics believe Pope Francis came from another planet on a spaceship that is now hidden in a bunker under the Vatican gardens.
Commentators have been quick to react.
Andrew Brown (in The Guardian) wrote that he had always supposed Catholics to be superstitious, gullible and unthinkingly right wing. ‘How, with its past history, could we expect the Catholic Church to take to its heart a down-to-earth Pope like Francis. Of course they would go off into some mythological fantasy. They should give their attention to food banks and those on depleted benefits, and not indulge in childish speculations.’
Stephen Beer (of Christians on the Left) had his own explanation: ‘It is well-known that the majority of working-class Catholics are ardent Brexiteers. If you can swallow that you can swallow anything. As everybody knows, Jesus would have wanted a soft Brexit and continued membership of the single market. Francis’s astral origins are an irrelevancy.’
The poll has even featured in a Times editorial, where the Thunderer opined that the fact that the Pope might be an extra-terrestrial only made it more important that Britain should have the strong and stable leadership of Theresa May.