“So seriously guys, I do believe that the moon has been visited,” the Pope said to an adoring crowd of hopeful astronauts who had gathered to listen to His Holiness recall his thoughts on the moon landing. “But I don’t believe it was an Ameican man who did so,” he went on.
A groan flooded through the crowd as the astronaut’s hopes for an honest dialogue were dashed. Surely, they assumed, he was going to tell them that Jesus had been the first person to visit the moon, accompanied by Adam and Eve, and maybe even using Noah’s Ark.
“Ah, I see the exasperation in your eyes,” His Holiness noted, pointed his ringed finger at the group. “You show that you doubt I have any knowledge of the science of space. But you’d be surprised to know that I have information that you and your government do not. Information sent to me from a Greater Power.”
This seemed to be the confirmation they were waiting for. There mood seemed to scream “Here it comes!” as they looked at each other while making the sign of the cross.
“Was the first person ever to land on the moon Jesus?” he asked the group.
“No, it was an American. An American named Lance Armstrong!” yelled one of the youngest men in the group.
“He means Neil, Neil Armstrong,” an older man corrected him. “But he was American and he is better than Jesus. And so is Lance Armstrong for that matter. And he’s American too.”
“Oh dear, it look like you’ve misinterpreted me,” His Holiness said, trying to settle the pro-American rally that seemed to be breaking out. “My word, I never meant you to think it was Jesus who visited the moon, but I must tell you, it was not an American either.”
He paused for a moment, letting this thought sink in. Then before they could voice their sure to be angry thoughts he spoke up:
“It was Tintin! Tintin and his dog!” he yelled pulling out an old yellowed children’s book showing the young reporter and his dog on the moon’s surface.
“What are you trying to get at?” one of the hopefuls asked, unsure how to proceed with His Holiness.
“Tintin was on the moon before Americans, before Russians, before Chinese, before Jesus even!” the Pope yelled giddily. “Do you believe it?! A little boy reporter and his dog travelling through space. It’s almost unheard of.”
The future astronauts did not seem to believe it. Nor did they seem to want to try and believe it.
“How did he get to the moon like that? His head would have exploded,” they said, taking the book from the Pope’s hands and pointing at his equipment.
“And his dog isn’t wearing anything! How’d he get into space with no gear?”
His Holiness sat back in his chair, taken aback by their lack of historical knowledge but not wanting to further aggravate the group of men who looked as though they were close to tears, thinking anyone but an American legend could have been to the moon first.
“I think you’re right,” he said. “I think it was Lance Armstrong.”