First, there was yesterday’s news the University of Notre Dame was joining Atlantic Coast Conference for all sports except football (although there will play 5 ACC team in football per season). But that isn’t the really shocking news; we all knew someday Notre Dame would “buddy up” to a conference. What surprised us all was the news that Notre Dame will now in fact be running the entirety of the Catholic Church.
In a historic press conference held today in South Bend, Indiana, Pope Benedict XVI and Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins announced the dramatic changes in the church. While the news was surprising, the reasons given really were not. In short, this is all about synergizing the world’s 800 million Catholics with the Notre Dame football program.
“It’s often been said the two most important jobs in the Catholic Church are Pope and quarterback at Notre Dame,” Benedict the XVI joked. “And not necessarily in that order!”
The details of the plan are much more serious. A church that has not seen major structural changes in several centuries is about to undergo a massive transformation in order to turn the followers of catholicism into the world’s largest college football fanbase.
“We’ve been trying to compete with the leviathans of college football unsuccessfully for far too long,” Jenkins said. “Then we realized with the correct strategy, we could dwarf the fanbases of the likes of Michigan, Penn State, and Texas. You can find a Catholic in sub-Saharan Africa much easier than you can find an Alabama fan. They can’t even say ‘Roll Tide’ in that clicking language they’ve got, but they can certainly strike a ‘Touchdown Jesus’ pose. “
One of the changes involved as part this new approach is the creation of the position of a Chief Executive Officer. Despite this move, Pope Benedict XVI still retains the position as the Supreme Pontiff, but hands over many of the day-to-day operations to the new CEO.
“I become more like a Chairman of the Board,” said the Pope. “The business operations of the church needed more football-focused attention. Plus, this way I don’t have to exercise the Doctrine of Papal Infallibility as much, which isn’t as good of a recruiting tool as you might think. This is just a smart business decision that will allow us to better synergize our efforts toward rebuilding Notre Dame football.”
According to Benedict XVI, there were several candidates for the new CEO position, but at the end of the day, there was one clear choice.
The Catholic Church appointed Irving R. Goldbaum, 56, a seasoned Wall Street executive to fill a position whose primary responsibility will be to build an infrastructure upon which a top-flight football program can be built. Goldbaum was previously the CEO of Goldbaum & Stein, a large New York consulting firm specializing in financial and legal considerations for large multi-national corporations.
“Mr. Goldbaum’s experience in international law, finance, and organizational leadership are a perfect fit for the directions that we need the Church to go to become the driving force behind making Notre Dame football a global brand,” said Benedict XVI. “He saw right away that as an organization, we have been focusing our efforts in some areas that tend to lead us away from our real strengths.”
According to the Pope, Goldbaum’s agenda will be to “reposition the Church to be aggressively market-driven focused, to grow the Notre Dame football brand through performance both on and off the field.”
Along this line, one of Goldbaum’s first major changes in Church philosophy was to permanently rescind the traditional “blessed” status of the world’s meek. This marks a historic reversal of its nearly 2,000-year-old pro-Meek stance.
“Your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ once said, ‘Blessed are the Meek,'” said Goldbaum in a conference call with the College of Cardinals. “However, there has always been a tacit understanding between the Church and the Meek that this ‘blessed’ status was conditional upon their inheritance of the earth, an event which seems unlikely to happen anytime in the foreseeable future. Our new strategy depends on that inheritance to grow our fanbase, and if that inheritance is not going to happen, we as an organization must move in a new direction.”
Citing “Two millennia of inaction and non-achievement” by the world’s impoverished and downtrodden, Goldbaum contended that the Meek’s historic unwillingness and/or inability to improve their worldly status constituted “bad faith that violates the spirit of the agreement on their part.”
“Twenty centuries should have been more than enough time for them to inherit the earth,” the Pope said in a statement supporting Goldbaum’s move. “For years, the Catholic Church has made every effort to help them, but at some point, enough is enough. We are patient, but, Jesus Christ, when do you draw the line?”
Catholic leaders around the world were vocal in their support of the decision.
“The Meek have abused their blessed status for far too long now,” said Bernard Law, Archbishop of Boston. “From the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution to the current Global Information Age, the Meek have always somehow managed to sit on their asses and do nothing while others worked hard to make advances and improve their lives. They were who we counted on to grow our ranks, and they haven’t delivered. They don’t even turn out for Boston College in one of the most Catholic cities in America. They have collected the Catholic Church’s spiritual welfare checks for long enough.”
“Everything about the Meek, from their simple garments, to their quiet demeanors, to their utter lack of can-do spirit, goes against Church philosophy,” Cardinal Michael Flannery of Chicago said. “Sitting back and expecting the Lord to provide you with Marlboros and cheap liquor while not even giving the Fighting Irish a TV view on Saturdays is not the type of behavior for which the Church should be rewarding its followers.”
The change in policy toward the Meek is also rooted in financial considerations. Quoting Vatican statistics, Goldbaum stated because more than 80 percent of the world’s Catholics live below the poverty line, the Catholic Church receives less than 2 percent of its annual earnings of $395 billion from such people.
“It is plain to see that being so heavily involved with the Meek offers almost a limited return on investment,” Goldbaum stated. “By opening up our relationship opportunities here, we open up avenues for attracting far more socio-economiclly diverse set of market segments and ultimately, major growth potential.”
“The Meek’s blessed status was originally bestowed upon them by Jesus Christ Himself, but there is enough latitude in His gospels and teachings to allow us discretion in this manner, especially in light of the new football and financial goals of the Church as it seeks to establish itself going forward,” Goldbaum said, offering the theological justification for the move. “From this day forward, the Church position shall be, Blessed are the Affluent for they have indeed inherited the Earth, and therefore will make better boosters.'”
In an effort to move away from its traditional Meek core demographic and attract more upscale worshipers/boosters, Vatican officials announced a number of changes for the Gospels. Among the changes:
- Christ is now said to have been born in a rustic-but-spacious birthing suite, not a manger.
- The amount of gold bestowed upon Him by the Wise Men has been quadrupled, the frankincense replaced by a deluxe Calvin Klein Obsession® toiletry kit with Gucci carrying case, and the amount of myrrh halved, since nobody really knows what myrrh is, and it is nowhere near as good of a hedge against inflation as precious metals.
- Judas shall no longer be viewed as a traitor, but instead shall be viewed as a booster who talked too much to the NCAA.
- It shall henceforth be as easy for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven as it is for him to pass through teh Staduim Club-Level Gate and enter his climate-controlled luxury box.
- The episode between Christ and the Moneylenders in the temple shall, from now on, be interpreted as an internecine argument over appropriately aggressive fund-raising tactics.
Changes have also been made to the Sacraments, according to Goldbaum. Among the changes:
- Baptism is now done with imported, bottled water (or on Saturday, domestic-tap stadium beer)
- Extreme Unction is now available for purchase instead of actually having to deal with any sick people, or worse yet, Michigan fans
- A new bonus Sacrament has been added, Indulgent Consumption. This is achieved upon purchase of your first new luxury sedan, and can be used as a substitute for any other Sacrament, or cashed in for season-ticket upgrades
In addition, Goldbaum went on to outline the new Notre Dame BlessedPerks® rewards plan, under which blessedness and God’s everlasting love are free of charge to members once a baptism/membership/seat license fee has been paid. Once this fee is paid, members begin accruing FrequentPrayer® points. These points can be accrued, for example, by attending mass, making donations to the Church, buying Notre Dame tickets and paraphernalia, and by using the new ChristBuxx® credit card at selected retailers.
After completion/purchase of the Sacraments, for an additional fee, Catholics can become Gold Helmet® members of the Church, entitling them to such upgrades as forgiveness, sainthood, Stadium Club Membership and reserved priority seating at the right hand of Lou Holtz upon death, depending on the number of FrequentPrayer® points they wish to redeem. In explaining the root of these changes, Goldbaum went on to add that this was strictly a business and football-related decision.
“We do not wish the Church to become completely exclusionary,” Goldbaum said. “If any of the former Meek wish to change their ways, they may certainly do so. But it won’t be the free ride they got before, I can promise you that.”
“The Lord will provide, of course,” Benedict XVI said. “But He also helps those who help themselves, if you know what I mean.”