VATICAN CITY — It may be Lent, but the Catholic Church hasn’t given up its sense of humor as part of this penitential season.
A group of Jesuits, Dominicans and a UK news agency are all having a bit of fun this April Fools Day.
The online news service in the UK, Independent Catholic News, reported this morning that the Vatican was implementing tough new measures to fight off ravenous seagulls circling St. Peter’s Square and ruining its doves-for-peace releases.
I.C.N. reported (tongue-in-cheek) that “A team in the Swiss Guards has been assigned the task of supervising a Sharris Hawk, which will be brought out during the weekly audiences and the Angelus…
“The hawk, which is called Sylvia, was bred in a wildlife centre in northern Italy and is highly trained. Her mere presence should act as a deterrent to any more attacks such as the one which took place in January. In addition however, she will act as an escort and protector to the peace doves after the ceremonies, accompanying the birds when they fly home from Saint Peter’s to their aviary.”
Meanwhile, what happens when a Jesuit and a Dominican walk into cyberspace? They take theologically-stimulating jabs at each other by highjacking each others’ websites.
The Friars Preachers took control of The Jesuit Post and the Jesuits hacked the Dominicana Blog as both orders scoffed at how easy it was: The Dominicans said it wasn’t hard to figure out the Jesuits’ password was AMDG and the Jesuits said, in essence, “Duh, ‘AngelicDoctor.'”
Interestingly, the Vatican didn’t publish its usual Tuesday list of resignations and nominations, perhaps aware most people suspend all belief on April 1st?
Bishop Armando Ochoa didn’t believe it when he heard news on April 1, 1996, that Blessed John Paul II had named him to head the Diocese of El Paso, Texas.
“I find myself on the first day of April wondering if this is one big April Fools’ Day joke, or what?” the bishop had said in a statement.
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston was a bit suspicious when Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell “jumped at the idea” of being installed bishop of Springfield, Mass., on April 1, 2004.
“This made me a little nervous and I wondered if he was going to jump up at the ceremony and say ‘April Fool,'” the then-Archbishop O’Malley said.