Previously, the Pope had opened the doors of Heaven to gays and atheists. Now that dead LGBTers and non-believers are packing through the Pearly Gates, Heaven is benefiting from a fashion and decorating do-over, and the surge of irreverent wisecracks from smartass atheists is helping the eternity pass more quickly.
Heartened by these results, the Pope has decided to let women who have had abortions apply to any priest for forgiveness, and hence access to Heaven. Previously abortion had been what Catholics called a “reserved sin,” meaning any old Father couldn’t forgive a sinner for it. You had to go to a crusty old bishop or some particularly nasty monsignor and beg for forgiveness. And you didn’t necessarily get it. No, your confessor could just say no, and you were doomed to remain on the Slip ‘n Slide to Hell.
Now any priest of whatever rank or degree of holiness can punch your ticket for the hereafter, even after you've had that abortion. Whether he is a deeply spiritual man or just another musty old guy with the smell of altar boy bum still lingering on his fingers doesn’t matter; you’re still good to go.
I don’t know if I’ll see you there. I’m hetero, for one thing. Whether I’m an atheist or not kind of depends on my mood. The other day I was waiting in the drugstore line for medication for an infection which had left one of my eyelids pretty well disfigured. I was feeling sorry for myself until I turned around and saw the woman behind me. She had one of those skin diseases that results in the skin being several different colors, in her case on her face. So, I briefly got some perspective on my problem of temporarily looking like an iguana.
Naturally, when I related the story to someone else, they exclaimed “God sent her to you,” presumably to mitigate my suffering, to which I replied, “God screwed up her whole life so I could have a half-minute of humility? This God character does some shady shit, if you ask me.”
But I don’t know if that brief burst of blasphemy qualifies me for eternity. I mean, I’m sure I’ve got another in me, and I’d better produce it soon, because I’m never going to have an abortion.
And I still carry the weight of my original mortal sin. Back in my own altar boy days, it was a mortal sin to eat anything from midnight on before taking Communion. Nowadays it’s only an hour, as some Pope a while back had a burst of pity for hungry Catholics, but not then. One morning before Mass, I absent-mindedly ate a piece of candy corn and then went to Communion anyway, because I couldn’t bear to explain why I wasn’t going to the priest and my mother. I knew it was a mortal sin when I did it, and I compounded it over the years by going to Confession over and over again and being too embarrassed to confess it.
I wandered with my sin-blackened soul for several grades through the halls of my Catholic elementary school, knowing that I was only a fatal accident or a childhood cancer away from my date with the flames of Hell, thanks to that bit of candy. Then I went through puberty and discovered a whole new category of sin, which I had no choice but to indulge in remorselessly.
And so it remains to this day. I pretty much have to remain the best atheist I can be, in order to even have a bank shot at Heaven. I thank the Pope for that. But I’m still waiting for his Encyclical on Candy Corn.
Then I’d be a shoo-in.