First, there was the news that for the first time in 600 years a sitting Pope would resign from office. Now, the Catholic Church is taking advantage of that situation to completely revamp it’s leadership structure.
During this rare “sede vacante,” the Catholic Church announced on Saturday that it would take unprecedented steps in its search for a new leader in order to move the church in a new, growth-centered direction.
One of the major changes announced by Camerlengo Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was the creation of the office of Commissioner. The duties of this office are to handle many of the operational and administrative functions, while Benedict XVI’s successor in the Papacy would still retain the position as the Supreme Pontiff.
“The next Pope will function more like a Chairman of the Board,” said Cardianl Bertone. “The business operations of the church needed more focused attention. This is just a smart business decision that will allow us as an organization to better synergize our efforts.”
To fill the new Commissioner position, the Catholic Church appointed Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. The 65-year old Delany has been at the helm of the Big Ten since 1989.
“Delany was really our choice for this position all along,” Cardinal Bertone said. “Delany has an established track record of growth during his time with the Big Ten. Mr. Delany’s experience in organization building, finance, and sports marketing are a perfect fit for the directions that we need the Church to go. To become the world’s pre-eminent religion again, we need to grow like an American sports league. He [Delany] saw right away that as an organization, we have been focusing our efforts in some areas that tend to lead us away from our core competencies.
Some of Delany’s accomplishments while with the Big Ten:
- The creation of the Big Ten Network
- The expansion of the conference to 14 schools with the addition of Penn State University in 1990, the University of Nebraska in 2011 and the University of Maryland and Rutgers University in 2012.
- Guaranteed participation for Big Ten schools in seven different bowl games
- Development and implementation of the first college football instant replay system
- An increase in average Big Ten football game attendance from 58,000 per game to 72,000 per game by 2005
- Negotiations with CBS to achieve a $6 billio,n 11-year contract for men’s basketball NCAA tournament games
Given that list, it should come as no surprise that according Cardinal Bertone, Delany’s primary agenda will be to “reposition the Church to be aggressively market-driven.” Along this line, one of Delany’s first major changes in Church philosophy was to permanently rescind the traditional “blessed” status of the world’s meek.
Marking a dramatic shift in church doctrine, the historic reversal of its nearly 2,000-year-old pro-Meek stance signals a major change in the focus of the church toward being a more revenue-focused organization.
“Your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ once said, ‘Blessed are the Meek,’” said Delany 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 relationship, therefore, must be terminated.”
Citing “Two millennia of inaction and non-achievement” by the world’s impoverished and downtrodden, Delany 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 Sean O’Malley, 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 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. Sitting back and expecting the Lord to provide you with Marlboros and cheap liquor 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, Delany 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 zero return on investment,” Delany stated. “By divesting ourselves here, we open up pipelines for far more productive revenue streams, much more interesting 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 financial goals of the Church as it seeks to establish itself in the 21st century,” Delany 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. Not to mention, they are the ones who will buy season tickets.”
In an effort to move away from its traditional Meek core demographic and attract more upscale worshipers, Vatican officials announced a number of big-time sports related changes for the Gospels. Among the changes:
- Christ is now said to have been born in state-of-the-art training facility, not a manger.
- The amount of gold bestowed upon Him by the Wise Men has been quadrupled, the frankincense replaced by a BCS Bowl-quality gift bag, including deluxe Calvin Klein Obsession® toiletry kit with a Gucci carrying case, and myrrh was replaced with a full-ride scholarship.
- Judas shall no longer be viewed as a traitor, but instead shall be viewed as a demonstration of the pitfalls of not keeping your boosters in line.
- It shall henceforth be as easy for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven as it is for him to pass through the Stadium Club entrance.
- The episode between Christ and the Moneylenders in the temple from now on is to be interpreted as an internecine argument over appropriately aggressive alumni fund-raising tactics.
Changes have also been made to the Sacraments, according Cardinal Bertone. Among the changes:
- Baptism is now done with bottled water, available only through licensed staduim concessions.
- Extreme Unction is now available in exchange for an alumni donation instead of actually having to deal with any sick people.
- A new bonus Sacrament has been added, Indulgent Consumption. This is achieved upon purchase of your first four-seat of Club Level® season-ticket package and can be used as a substitute for any other Sacrament.
In addition, Bertone went on to outline the new Catholic Church Staduim Club/BlessedPerks® plan, under which blessedness and God’s everlasting love are free of charge to members once a baptism/membership fee has been paid. Once this fee is paid, members begin accruing FrequentPrayer® points. Points can be accrued, for example, by attending mass, making donations to the Church, purchasing items from the news line of licensed Church gear 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 Circle® members of the Church, entitling them to such upgrades as forgiveness, sainthood and reserved priority seating at the right hand of the Holy Father upon death, depending on the number of FrequentPrayer® points they wish to redeem. In explaining the root of these changes, Bertone went on to add that this was strictly a business decision
“We do not wish the Church to become completely exclusionary,” Bertone 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,” Delany said. “But He also knows the Church needs to build a new stadium first.”