Vatican Press Office response to the end of the world

Father Lombardi would keep his cool even if he had to announce the second coming, says Francis Phillips, the excellent columnist and blogger for the Catholic Herald. Her article got me thinking mischievously about what would happen if the second coming were scheduled.

First of all the Vatican Bollettino would announce several days in a row an "Avviso di Conferenza Stampa" (Notice of Press Conference). Two high-ranking prelates and a layman would be slated to speak. Given the importance of the occasion, we might expect Cardinal Burke of the Sacred Penitentiary and Archbishop Muller of the CDF, but it could be Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers and Cardinal Amato of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints since there might be need for emergency service and quite a lot of saints all in one go. For the laity, perhaps someone from the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences to talk on the astronomical implications.

Eventually the press conference would take place with three 20 minute speeches issued under embargo during the morning before it takes place, and then read out verbatim to snoozing reporters. These would discuss the theological and social implications of the forthcoming parousia, the positive attitude of the Holy See, and the teaching of the second Vatican Council, particularly the hopeful message of Gaudium et Spes.

In the meantime, various journalists around the world would ask whether Jesus Christ, coming on the clouds of heaven, would in fact approve gay marriage, women priests and an end to priestly celibacy. The Press Office would leave it to the bloggers to go in to bat on those questions, and would concentrate instead on scotching rumours from "informed sources in the Vatican" that Pope Francis had planned to take some homeless people and sit on the top of a mountain awaiting the Day. It would confirm that he intended to remain in the Domus Sanctae Marthae and put himself at the disposal of the Lord, particularly if He wanted breakfast.

On the Day, CTV would offer a syndicated feed, L'Osservatore would print a special issue (distinguished by having pictures of Jesus Christ) and camera crews from the world's media would impatiently wait for the yellow smoke. Liberal Catholics would be ensconced at the BBC to complain that the blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke, the darkening of the sun, and the moon turning to blood were relics of a medieval mindset that did not properly take into account the compassion of Jesus. At least one sedevacantist website would run pictures proving that the Jesus who was about to judge the world in fact had a different hairstyle from the Jesus on the Turin Shroud.

Quietly in the background, Mgr Marini would arrange a Pontifical Celebration Pro Fine Huius Mundi with whatever vestments he had been asked to put out this week. (His courteous warning about the flammable nature of polyester would go unheeded.)

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