ROME – After 30 prominent theologians who met in the Vatican in December agreed that it’s time for the Roman Catholic doctrine of limbo to be discarded, Church officials have stressed that the final decision rests with Pope Benedict XVI, who has not yet been able to make up his mind about it. “The pope thinks getting rid of limbo would be great, because it would simplify everything,” said one official, “but on the other hand he also thinks it’s nice to know that it’s there, just in case, because you never know when you’ll need the extra storage space. So right now, he’s kind of in lim-… in a quandary about the whole thing.”
In traditional Catholic doctrine, limbo has been the place reserved in the afterlife for unbaptized babies and, in some versions, for wise and virtuous ancient pagans, nice Jews, well- behaved Muslims, cute heretics, and adorable household pets. Also consigned to limbo, according to tradition, are fans of the Chicago Cubs, people standing in crowded restaurants who have been told that their table should be ready shortly, people who get put on hold after calling customer service, and anyone attending a performance of the Broadway musical “Mamma Mia.”
Despite the conclusion of the December meeting in Rome that limbo itself should be relegated to limbo, the International Brotherhood of Hair- splitters, the powerful theologians’ union, has come out against any narrowing of afterlife options, fearing it could result in substantial theological staff reductions. In response to these concerns, Vatican officials have suggested that instead of shutting down limbo altogether, they might consider just closing off the swimming pool area and getting rid of the game room, though they admitted that the ping- pong table would be sorely missed by residents who have already complained that even with regular high- stakes games of table tennis a stay in limbo can seem like an eternity. But the Church officials said that in compensation they might be willing to offer in-room movies for the first time, and the weekly rates, though certain to rise, would still be well under comparable off-season packages in Fort Lauderdale. Anyone who didn’t like it, they added, could always go to hell.
Nevertheless, there were signs of growing international opposition to the proposed metaphysical makeover, including a noisy demonstration by unbaptized babies in Barcelona and a protest involving hundreds of ancient Greeks in Athens. In Paris, an angry mob of existentialists rioted for the third consecutive day, arguing that we are all already in limbo, and to abolish it would be bad faith, as it would be in effect to abolish the authentic human situation itself, which is in its essence but of course totally absurd, except for the cafe au fait, it is not so very bad, and the croissants, mon dieu, they are superb, and Jerry Lewis, he is a genius, no?
Simultaneously, in cities and small towns across the United States, there were also ongoing riots as tens of thousands of angry “dittoheads” protested the apparent abolition of radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, but they quietly returned to their homes after police officers used bullhorns to explain that there were still many things to be furious about, but this wasn’t one of them. Limbaugh himself was said to have resumed seething on a normal schedule after the unfortunate misunderstanding was cleared up.