Citing a profound loss of faith upon hearing that Italy’s most famous sprinter Mario Cipollini had used performance enhancing drugs, Pope Benedict XVI shocked Roman Catholics by saying he would resign on February 28, becoming the first pope to do so in six centuries.
Speaking in Latin to a small group of cardinals and members of the Italian Anti-Doping Agency at the Vatican, Benedict said that his loss of faith in Cipollini had led to a crisis of conscience.
After reading the doping allegations against Cipollini in Gazzetta dell Sport, the Pope said “Super Mario has destroyed my belief in truth and honesty to such a degree that I am no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of leading the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.
“The pope took us by surprise,” said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, Pope Benedict appeared at a hastily called news conference on Monday, where he stood by himself at the lectern, drinking from an old Saeco water bottle.
“In this world of pro cycling,” Benedict said in his announcement, “shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, I have lost all belief in Cipollini who I saw win Milan-San Remo and who I blessed before the world championships in Zolder. If I cannot trust in Cipo then even the existence of God is called into question. Such is my dismay and disappointment that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
“For this reason,” he continued, “and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom, I declare that I renounce the ministry of bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter.”
The resignation of the pope stunned Catholics and bike racing fans all over the world. However, the news that Cipollini had used large quantities of EPO and growth hormone and is said to have undertaken 13 blood transfusions has sent shockwaves throughout Italy.
“The Pope loved the Lion King but now the tears are bitter and the memories are blackened,” said Rev. Lombardi. “He can’t even watch that Disney movie the Lion King without going to pieces.”