Pope Benedict XVI has been placed on gardening leave after accepting an ‘unbelievably generous’ offer to join Islam on a free transfer during the religious transfer window.
In what is believed to be a historic move between the two great traditional rivals, the Pope will take a leading role in his new side as they seek to become the dominant force in world religion.
In a brief statement the Pontiff revealed his thoughts had been turning increasingly towards Mecca and that Islam represented his ‘greatest professional challenge’.
The former Cardinal Ratzinger confirmed he would work his four-week notice period minus any holidays he carried forward from last year, but was immediately escorted from his gold throne.
“Once he told us he had signed a pre-contract agreement, we had no choice to send him home,” explained one Vatican source.
“He was free to talk to other religions, obviously, but we were confident he’d sign on for another few years.”
Though his conversion is the most high-profile since Cat Stevens began trading under the name of Yusuf Islam and stopped signing autographs, the Pope spoke of both his sadness and excitement at the move, and his hope that the ‘fans will understand’.
He told reporters gathered outside St Peters, “The Catholic fans have been great to me ever since I came here, and I can’t thank them enough for all their support over the last five years.”
“I just hope they can see this from my point of view and realise there is no greater challenge to a religious professional than crossing this great divide.”
“It’s a massive opportunity for me, and one I’m looking forward to.”
“I’m going to have a few weeks off to recharge the batteries, and then I can’t wait to pull on the famous Shalwar Kameez and show the Muslim fans what I can do.”
The best of Pope Benedict XVI: