ROME, Italy — Pope Francis has changed the name of St. Peter’s Basilica to “Tiber Creek Community Church,” Vatican spokesperson Fr. Federico Lombardi announced this morning.
“The greatest church of Christendom, built on the holy grave of the martyr-prince of the Apostles, has been known as ‘St. Peter’s Basilica’ for 1700 years,” Fr. Lombardi explained. “It was long overdue for a rebranding.”
He continued that this was just the next step in Pope Francis’ greater program of trying to make the church more relatable to the average person.
“How many Catholics today even know who St. Peter is?” Fr. Lombardi asked reporters, eliciting murmurs of agreement. “And besides, referencing St. Peter is a dead giveaway that we’re Catholic.” Fr. Lombardi said that naming the church after it’s geographic location without any denominational identifiers was more in line with how modern people felt about religion.
Fr. Lombardi also announced that projectors and screens would be installed throughout the basilica in the coming week, that a “totally rocking” worship band was being formed, and that Pope Francis planned on making his sermons “relevant to every day life.”
“The Trinity, the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth, these are all interesting — to dead theologians,” Fr. Lombardi said dismissively. “But how does that apply to my everyday life? How will that help me advance in my career? That’s what Pope Francis is going to be focusing on.”
According to an anonymous source within the Vatican, when some of his advisors voiced concerns about the name change, Francis informed them that he had already purchased the new sign.
“He was really proud of the sign,” the anonymous source said. “He told us he already had some great jokes to post up there.”
Yet, it does point out something that's provoking no small amount of worry in a lot of Catholics and non-Catholics alike: In the name of the "New Evangelization," is the Holy Father intent on overturning centuries of Church teaching that's based upon the words of Jesus contained in Scripture? Or, is he just releasing some of the pressure that's built up over the past few decades so the Extraordinary Synod on the Family can deal with essential issues and threats?
Who's to know?
What's fact is that the Holy Father has let genie is out of the bottle by encouraging full-throttled, public debate, with divisions among the cardinals now being politicized by the media and partisans, raising the hopes of many on the left that Church teaching will be changed. Speeches are being given and books are being published. Partisans--particularly on the left--are denying credible scholarship and promoting suspect scholarship.
Unintentionally, the Holy Father may have further divided the hierarchy, exposed long-term wounds, and may even be causing a schism--perhaps not a formal schism but one engendering much greater embitterment between both sides--one that's worse than the schism engendered by his predecessor, Pope Paul VI, with the publication of Humanae vitae (which The Motley Monk happens to believe was heroic, prophetic, and the truth).
Let the discussion begin...