VATICAN CITY. Pope Benedict XVI today announced that the Roman Catholic Church will come to the rescue of bloggers on embattled web publishing platform Open Salon by crediting balances in the site's moribund "Tippem" feature to reduce the length of their stay in Purgatory, the way station between earth and Heaven.
"This is a tremendous coup for us," said Editorial Director-for-Life Kerry Lauerman. "The Catholic Church is one of the biggest players in the member-service space, with more customers than Barnes & Noble and more outlets than Starbucks--as of 9:15 this morning."
Purgatory is defined in Catholic dogma as a place of punishment for those who die with "venial" or minor sins that have not been forgiven through the sacrament of confession. After spending time burning in fires that erase such imperfections, a mortal's soul receives a tote bag with promotional gifts and is allowed to enter the kingdom of Heaven.
The length of stay required to purge particular sins is not spelled out in any offical church text, but it is believed that even minor transgressions can require extensive periods of punishment. Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children to whom the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed herself at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, was told that she would burn in Purgatory until Judgment Day while her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto would go directly to heaven when they died. "Sorry," the Virgin reportedly told the little girl, "I saw you pick your nose during Mass."
The announcement recalled "simony," the practice of selling indulgences during the Middle Ages, by which the church filled it coffers by offering reduced time in Purgatory to wealthy patrons who contributed money or valuables. "Purgatory can be a cash cow for the church if it is properly marketed," said Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State of Vatican City. "By teaming up with Open Salon, we hope to vault ahead of the Episcopalians, who make a ton of money selling soft drinks during church basement sock hops that are forbidden to our youth."
Fashion industry sources suggested the Pope's decision was motivated by his keen sense of style, which has been profiled in The New York Times and Women's Wear Daily. "Let's face it--the guy's a clothes horse," said Sodano. "He heard that Open Salon 'tips' were redeemable at Tommy Bahama and Sheehan's Church Goods."