|File Picture, courtesy Vatican Archives.|
Rome, Italy - Despite new evidence unearthed about the kind of life Pope Benedict had been living in the Vatican since the early 80's, Pope Francis continues to dazzle with Easter and Christmas Catholics.
Documents have recently come to light revealing how eccentric a life Benedict had been living even before he became pope.
Church historian Jaroslav Smith, stated in an interview with SCCB, "First we had the forty-day fast of Our Lord, then we had the inexplicably abstemious lives of St. Anthony of Egypt and the other Desert Fathers, some of whom were said to live off of perhaps one fig a day or even a week."
"But" Prof. Smith said, "this takes sanctity to a whole new level."
The extraordinary documents in question are the journals of Pope Benedict's confessor, Fr. Pio von Berlin, who kept detailed accounts of the Pope Emeritus' spiritual practices. Prof. Smith who has read all of the documents stated, "In fact, it seems that Pope Benedict only ate once during his time as Prefect of the Doctrinal Congregation, and that was when he saw a dried out raisin on the floor when they were moving the Vatican refrigerator. He always strongly believed that it is a sin to waste food."
The documents also record the time when Fr. Pio had to put Benedict under strict obedience not to levitate around the Sistine Chapel at night while holding conversations with various angels and saints.
And yet despite these new revelations people still prefer Pope Francis. In surveys conducted by CNN, Gallop and Bloomberg, Francis is consistently receiving favorable ratings of around 99% compared to around 8% for the Pope Emeritus.
"Who am I to judge! That's the Pope for me!" Tweeted twice a year mass-goer Crystal Dawson.
"No more rules - that rules. That's why Francis is the pope for me!" Tweeted every-other Christmas attendee, Chuck Tyler.
Pope Francis' approach also resonates with mainstream journalists, like those at the New York Times, whose lead story this Christmas was "Pope Francis 'High-Fives' Recently Divorced Young People Gathered at Vatican, Ushering in a New Era of Tolerance."
When asked about the new revelations about Pope Benedict's extraordinary holiness, many of the people interviewed seemed to feel that holiness is not as important as other things, like not judging.
Pope Francis' greater popularity has also been reflected in sales this Christmas. At the top of Amazon.com's best-seller list was "Pictures of Holiness: Photos of the Pope at the Beach with Celebrities," which has already sold close to 35 million copies since its release on December 24th. Much slower were sales of the first volume of Pope Benedict's complete works, which has so far sold just 29 copies, most of these having been purchased by relatives of the great pope-theologian.
SCCB has also learned that far from not having been invited to the October Synod on the Family, as was originally assumed, the Pope Emeritus had to decline the invitation after the shine of his hallow proved to be too bright for anyone within a 100 feet not to go blind, thus reinforcing the feeling that Benedict is much less approachable than his Latino successor.