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Pope Runs Amok

(Published on homepage of VirtualJerusalem.com on April 1, 2000 - April Fool's Day)

In what can only be described as the biggest media gaffe in history, Pope John Paul II was last night denied entry into Israel after a passport control officer, Ms Ahava Amichai, declared his visa invalid. The Papal entourage, numbering close to 400 men, turned as white as their frocks upon hearing the news, and then fell to their knees, whether in a faint or in
prayer, could not be established.

Ms Amichai, visibly unmoved by the commotion, informed the delegation that "[I] don't care who he is, rules are rules, and no one visits Israel without a valid visa." At this moment, Cardinal Matthew IV, the Papal spokesman, hurdled his kneeling colleagues (no mean feat for a guy in a dress) charged up to the clerk and demanded an apology on behalf of the delegation. There was a hushed silence from the 2,000-member press core as Ms Amichai readied her caustic response.

It never came. Instead, from behind the glass partition of the Pope's in-door Pope-mobile, came a soft knocking. Everyone, including the clerk, the Cardinal and the press, turned their attention to the little wizened man in the transparent booth. And then his voice was heard:
"Caesar si viveret, ad remum dareris,"* he muttered to the clerk with a saintly look on his face, "but in the meantime woman, what's it gonna take to get me to Jerusalem? The pilgrims and my helicopter are waiting! Holy smokes, let's not disappoint all those Jerusalem commuters who are expecting to be stuck in traffic all afternoon."
(At this juncture, Gerald Kessel from CNN was heard to comment to his producer, "My God, he sounds just like Tony Soprano!")

Ms Amichai, still about as moved by the Papal ire as Beethoven at a Def Leppard concert, rose from her cubicle, and announced matter-of-factly that it was time for her coffee break. Three seconds later, she was gone, minus a puff of smoke.

Instantly, the Papal delegation arose from their knees and began to round up packs of peripheral pilgrims in an effort to propel Israeli bureaucracy forward by inciting a religious riot. In all the commotion and blinding flash photography, the Pope somehow managed to escape from his vehicle, shuffling on foot with the aid of a large crucifix, out the doors of Ben
Gurion Airport. He has not been seen since. However, twenty minutes ago, at exactly 18:09 IST, an anonymous caller with a thick Israeli accent, called the Ha'aretz Daily Newspaper, and issued the following message on behalf of Pope John Paul II:

"I guess what they say about Israeli bureaucracy is true. Bunch of meshugoyim! I am alive and well and thrilled to be out of my stuffy little Pope-mobile. Please do not attempt to find me - I'm having the time of my life with my new friend, cab driver Motti! Apologies to all my faithful pilgrims and staff, but with all due respect to you blessed people, get a life already!
Veni Vidi Vici Baruch Hashem Allah Waqbar!"

*If Caesar were alive, you'd be chained to an oar.