Overturning 2,000 years of religious doctrine, an out-of-breath and visibly flustered Pope Benedict XVI announced Sunday that the termination of unwanted pregnancies was now "completely and perfectly acceptable in the eyes of God."
The divine proclamation, which contradicts prior teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, was reportedly made by Pope Benedict after a late night phone call to his Vatican residence. According to witnesses, His Holiness was seen pacing back and forth, nervously wringing his hands, and cursing at himself in a hallway mirror before coming to the sudden decision.
"My friends in Christ, brothers and sisters of the cloth, having an abortion is...err...not that big a deal," announced the anxious pontiff while reading from a series of hastily scrawled edicts. "In fact, it is written, uh, somewhere, that the taking of an innocent life might even be something of a blessing in some cases."
"For example, when a mother's life is at risk," continued Benedict, wiping several beads of sweat from his forehead. "Or, say, when someone is just way too old to become a father at this point."
Shocking a crowd of thousands that had gathered in St. Peter's Square, the infallible religious leader declared Sunday that the killing of an unborn child is "not really a mortal sin," especially if everyone involved pretty much wished the whole thing had never happened.
"The Lord hath come unto me when I could not sleep and He hath said, 'This is totally an option now,'" proclaimed Benedict, taking off his miter to fan himself. "Also, He hath said that some people should probably go out and get this done, like, today, and that they shouldn't tell anyone else about it. Umm...Amen."
The pope, who on many occasions prior had called abortion a "crime against society," admitted Sunday that, on second thought, "some things are not actually that straightforward."
Pausing momentarily to take a drink of water, Benedict went on to stress that certain religious doctrines no longer apply in today's world, and that, perhaps, they ought to be weighed against more modern considerations, such as making a problem go away.
Other important factors outlined by Benedict included length of pregnancy, the possibility of health complications, and whether or not two people just met one crazy night, got a little carried away, and made the biggest mistake of both their lives.
"All women, particularly those by the name of Sheila, deserve the right to choose," Benedict said. "And if they choose wrongly—if they choose to keep the child, even though that does not make any sense, and might very well ruin someone's career—then maybe they should just leave the country and never come back."
The Holy Father then called for a moment of silence while he tried to "figure some stuff out."
Though he spent most of his papal address on the issue of abortion, Benedict also delivered a number of lesser decrees. Stunning all in attendance, the head of the Catholic Church announced that contraceptives were, in fact, not a grave evil, and recommended that birth control be used by everyone, even those who claim they are already on it, but as it turns out, are really not.
In addition, His Holiness asserted that he might have been wrong about the dangers of self-gratification. Shaking his head in grave disappointment, Benedict said he could now see how the lustful act might prevent some people from running out in the middle of the night, jumping inside of a glass-encased vehicle, and speeding to the nearest bar.
Benedict's most impassioned plea, however, focused on the importance of forgiveness.
"All of God's children make mistakes," said the head of the Vatican, who reportedly took the Lord's name in vain on 43 separate occasions during his address. "Be it disrespecting our parents, lying to friends, or thinking if we keep our robes on the whole time nothing bad will ever happen—we all do things that we later come to regret."
"However, it is important that we not let these mistakes ruin everything we've worked so hard for, okay?" he added. "I mean, come on, just get rid of it already. I said I was sorry for trying to push you down those basilica stairs. What more do you want from me? I'm begging you, please."
Pope Benedict XVI ended his sermon by claiming that, even in face of grave injustices across the world, he still believed in miracles, most notably that of the Virgin Birth.
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Nod to PZ