In a shock annoucement today Pope Benedict XVI said that he wished to change the meaning of Christmas. In a global message he said next year’s Christmas would be a celebration of the single person. The time-honoured version of Christmas celebrating the family had revealed itself to be bankrupt. Christmas has basically devolved, he said, into a pagan festival in which the worship of consumer items and the search of alcohol-driven oblivion had taken over from any religious meaning.
He acknowledged for the first time that Christmas was simply a replacement of the more ancient Roman ceremony known as Saturnalia and that the idea that 25 December marked the birth of Jesus was a tidy fiction completely unrelated to fact. Nobody knew when or where Jesus was born, he now admitted. The twentyfirst century called for some degree of honesty, he said, even in such a time-worn institution as the Catholic Church.
As for the popular belief that Christmas, in the end, was all about children, The Holy Father acknowledged that Christmas has simply become a means of training children in the way of greed. It also became a form of purchasing love. Christmas had become, he said, a way of grooming children for capitalism. It was an exploitation of innocence. Children had become the worst victims of Christmas. The Church, he said, would consider forms of compensation. Perhaps even the entire body of the Church, its Swiss accounts, land holdings, art and antiques, might be liquidated and donated to the poor children of the world. This was entirely possible, he said.
The old idea that Christmas was all about family had also proved to be a fallacy. In fact every year the festival was dictated by guilt, fears of loneliness and the need for shaky economies to spur on consumer spending. He acknowledged the festival of Christmas was a complete sham. People who were related to each other simply by birth spent time together reliving ancient traumas. It was not healthy for the human race. It was time to take a break.
It was time, he said, to appreciate the radical role of the single person. Without the single person overpopulation, a form of global pollution, would be crippling. The future of the world, of humans, depended on the single person. In such a radical step against orthodox Catholic doctrine, which believed that women should breed as much as possible, to produce more Catholics and also remain in their proper subervient state, he said he had looked into his heart and found he must speak out for the rare value and beauty of the single individual. Those who did not breed deserved the highest praise.
An entire festival would occur next 25 December in which the single individual would be highly praised. Those in families would fast for the entire month of December, to acknowledge their guilt in placing undue demands on the earth’s slender resources. On the 25 December, it was the role of families to locate single persons in their community and worship them. This did not involve gifts or alcohol, carols outside their windows or invitations to ‘parties’. It involved silence. 25 December would become, for the first time in history, a real day of contemplation. Silence would be enjoyed around the world. Humans would listen to the sound of birds, the loveliness of a blade of grass slowly growing. It would be as it was, in the beginning. It was a beautiful idea, he said, whose time had come.
When asked by a journalist how he was feeling after being knocked down by 25 year old Susanna Maiolo, he shocked his audience by saying it was this which had brought him to his senses. She was a single person, just as he, in his heart, was a single man. He wished people to understand that the information that she had ‘psychological problems’ was a way of diminishing the real import of her action. She had been a bearer of the word. And the word had reached him. And now he understood.
He proposed that Susanna Mailolo join Australia’s Mary McKillop as the Catholic Church’s newest saint. ‘What we once believed to be heretic turned out to be simply the bearer of the Truth’.