Pope Francis confirmed today that God has removed the final obstacle to Catholic-Orthodox reunion. “I woke up this morning,” he explained to reporters, “looked in the mirror and, lo and behold, there I was looking back at myself with a full beard. It had grown overnight! It’s a miracle and sign, I say, a miracle and sign! God has made me Orthodox! Let us make Eucharist together!”
The Ecumenical Patriarch, however, was a bit more cautious. “It’s a fine beard, to be sure,” declared Bartholomew I, “but is it truly an Orthodox beard? I’m not sure. In these papal whiskers I noetically sense the absence of a patristic phronema. I have no choice, therefore, but to convene a pan-Orthodox synod, which I shall formally name ‘The Holiest and Greatest Council Yet!’ The Russians won’t be able to stay away this time. After all, they think of themselves as the world’s experts in beards.” He then whispered, “Patriarch’s Kirill’s beard is particularly handsome, isn’t it? I wonder who trims it.”
Meanwhile, Cardinal Leo Burke, speaking on behalf of the Society of Clean-Shaven Priests, angrily denounced the Pope’s announcement. “Satan is at work here. Beards do not grow overnight. That’s not how the Almighty works. If anything, Francis’s beard demonstrates what we have long suspected—he is not, and never has been, the true Pope. He is a heretic and anti-Pope, maybe even the Antichrist. The College of Cardinals must convene immediately and elect a new Supreme Pontiff. May I humbly add that I have never had a beard. I don’t even shave. That makes me eminently qualified for the position.” When asked about the Orthodox, Cardinal Burke remarked: “If they are sincere in their desire for reunion, let them shave their beards and solemnly recite the Filioque. Then, and only then, shall I admit them to the one true Church.” One reporter pointed out that he was not yet the Vicar of Christ. “Deus vult,” the Cardinal retorted.
After presiding at Solemn Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral, Archbishop Justin Welby was asked his opinion about the Pope’s new beard: “I can neither confirm nor disconfirm the miraculous nature of the Pope’s beard. We Anglicans aren’t even sure there are miracles. All I can say is, I’ve always wanted to grow a beard—but Mrs. Welby doesn’t like them and she wears the cassock in our family.” The Archbishop then retired to the Old Palace for a glass of sherry.
In response to the exciting news in Rome, the Lutheran World Federation and International Conference of Reformed Churches issued a joint statement: “The Churches of the Reformation are united in this one solemn truth: no one is justified by their facial hair. Beards are adiaphora. If the bishop of Rome wants to wear a beard, good for him. Quite frankly, we don’t give a damn.”