Hot Line to God Closed Down

The Vatican was in turmoil last night after the Pope's official Hot Line to God was closed down. Vatican officials hurried to pour oil on troubled waters by initially denying the rumours and then insisting it was just a technical hitch.

However a spokesperson was forced to admit that Optus had cut off the Pope's Hot Line to God when they failed to sign up with the service provider in time to meet a one-week deadline.

The Vatican is just another casualty of One.Tel's collapse and is now struggling to get its message out. Services have been cut worldwide and officials are no longer able to communicate with the church.

The disaster was caused by confusion over the Vatican's contract with doomed telephone company One.Tel.

"We believed in One.Tel and sincerely thought it fitted in with Church thinking and dogma. It is clear we were deceived and One.Tel was not the one," said a spokesperson.

"One.Tel convinced us they could walk on water to get us to sign with them. We didn't want to be accused of doubting them so we signed up.

"This is disastrous for us," continued the Vatican spokesperson."The devil was in the detail of the contract we originally signed and we have not been able to make head or tail of it since.

"We are trying to weigh up our options carefully before signing with any new service provider, however none of them seem very charitable.

"Optus never even gave us time to examine the small print of the contract they expected us to sign. One week has passed and now we have been cut off. Seven days may have been enough for the good Lord to create the universe but it is not enough time to read a mobile phone contract."

Optus vigorously denied the charges saying the problem stemmed from confusion over landline and mobile customers.

"The Pope's Hot Line was definitely a mobile and he could have switched to Optus with out any penalty. However we said all along we could not guarantee Internet and landline services," said an Optus spokesperson.

The Vatican, who put all their faith in One.Tel after its miraculous rise are devastated by the death of the telephone company. Many officials are refusing to give up their handsets and are reluctant to give up their numbers.

At a cafe in central Italy a young girl drinking a latte heard her phone ring even though it had been disconnected for three days - officials are investigating.

Protestants were quick to point out that Vatican services should have been cut a long time ago, as their conversion rates had been dropping for some time. "Besides," said Bishop Pell, "that is what comes of putting all your faith in One.Tel."

Rival dealers were seen hawking their wares on street corners around the Vatican. No one has been tempted.

Vodaphone is rumoured to have signed up Donny and Marie Osmond who are to feature heavily in their new promotion.

The Vatican has admitted they are not sure of what to do next. "We have thought about Telstra. Many of the Cardinals are attracted to the idea of BigPond."

It is unclear whether it is the famous Telstra service or the reference to water that appeals to them.

The Sydney Anglican Archbishop-elect, Dr Peter Jensen took the opportunity to demand the Prime Minister examine his conscience and apologise to all Catholics for the gross injustice they have had to suffer.

The Bishop later defended himself on Sixty Minutes, saying he was only voicing his concerns and did not think an apology would leave the government liable to damage and compensation claims.

Vatican officials confirmed they have been tempted with magnificent offers from rival telephone dealers. They have yet to make a decision but are examining an attractive offer from Virgin.