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by Rose Madeline Mula

I read recently that the ancient shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico has entered the computer age by launching its own web site. Even more surprising is the fact that the first visitor to sign onto the site was none other than Pope John Paul II.

The Pope at the computer. It's an anachronism-hard to imagine. Sort of like running into Michelangelo at the local pizzeria: "A large cheese with pepperoni, please; but light on the sauce—it makes such a mess when it drips into my palette."

I wonder if he (the Pope, not Mickey A) visits chat rooms. If so, how does he describe himself? "Single…financially secure…multi-lingual…former actor, playwright… flashy dresser with a unique automobile…lives in a palatial house with a large staff…enjoys world travel…"

What does he do about pornographic spam? Does he simply delete it without opening it, or does he respond and preach to the sender about the evils of sin?

Does he play computer poker? If so, does he cheat? Or does he rely on Help from Above? Is he on everyone's jokes mailing list? Does he approve of gags (such as "Do guys like gals with big boobs?") that end in "Does a bear s_ _ _ in the woods?" Or does he prefer the punch line, "Is the Pope Catholic?"

As a Catholic myself, I always thought it would be a sure ticket to heaven to get absolution from Mr. Big himself; but getting past the Swiss Guard to see him would be tricky. Do you suppose he responds to e-mail confessions?

Does he curse when his computer crashes?

Is he addicted to computer Free Cell solitaire, and does he get annoyed if someone interrupts him in mid-game? "So? I know there are ten thousand people in the plaza waiting for midnight Mass, but I'm in the middle of my fiftieth straight win. Give me a few minutes, for God's sake!"

Do you suppose the computer gremlins ever dare to threaten to close the program he is working on because he has performed an illegal operation?

When he gets one of those "fatal error" messages, does he haul out the holy oils and administer the last rites to his computer?

When he calls tech support, does he have to wait on "Hold" interminably like the rest of us?

Does he have a separate phone line for his Internet connection, or do his friends have to put up with busy signals when he's online like mine do? Does he have a digital camera?

Does he snap pictures on his travels to e-mail to his friends?

Does he burn CDs of the Vienna Boys Choir? And did he ever risk breaking copyright infringement laws by downloading music from Napster? If so, did he limit his selections only to songs by Madonna, hoping to hear the first lullaby the Blessed Mother sang in the manger? He may have been curious about how anyone managed to capture her voice long before the technology existed; but since he knows that all things are possible with God, he might have given it a shot. If he did, was he shocked by the Material Girl? Or did he like her? Did he grant her an indulgence electronically for naming her daughter Lourdes?

And, finally, has God really endowed the Pope with infallible wisdom? There's one sure way to find out:

Test him to see if he can make any sense at all out of his computer manual.


Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.


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