With the acquisition, Pope John Paul II will become the senior vice-president of the combined company's new Religious Software Division, while MICROSOFT senior vice-presidents Michael Maples and Steven Ballmer will be invested in the College of Cardinals, said MICROSOFT Chairman Bill Gates.
"We expect a lot of growth in the religious market in the next five to ten
" said Gates.
"The combined resources of MICROSOFT and the Catholic
Church will allow us to make religion easier and more fun for a broader
range of people.
Through the MICROSOFT Network, the company's new on-line service,
make the sacraments available on-line for the first time
" and revive the
popular pre-Counter-Reformation practice of selling indulgences, said Gates.
"You can get Communion, confess your sins, receive absolution -- even reduce
your time in Purgatory -- all without leaving your home.
A new software application, MICROSOFT Church, will include a macro language which you can program to download heavenly graces automatically while you are away from your computer.
An estimated 17,000 people attended the announcement in St. Peter's Square, watching on a 60-foot screen as comedian Don Novello -- in character as Father Guido Sarducci -- hosted the event, which was broadcast by satellite to 700 sites worldwide.
Pope John Paul II said little during the announcement. When Novella chided
"Now I guess you get to wear one of these pointy hats,
" the crowd
roared, but the pontiff's smile seemed strained.
The deal grants MICROSOFT exclusive electronic rights to the Bible and the Vatican's prized art collection, which includes works by such masters as Michelangelo and Da Vinci. But critics say MICROSOFT will face stiff challenges if it attempts to limit competitors' access to these key intellectual properties.
"The Jewish people invented the look and feel of the holy scriptures,
Rabbi David Gottschalk of Philadelphia.
"You take the parting of the Red Sea
-- we had that thousands of years before the Catholics came on the scene.
But others argue that the Catholic and Jewish faiths both draw on a common
"The Catholic Church has just been more successful in
marketing it to a larger audience,
" notes Notre Dame theologian Father
Kenneth Madigan. Over the last 2,000 years, the Catholic Church's market
share has increased dramatically, while Judaism, which was the first to
offer many of the concepts now touted by Christianity, lags behind.
Historically, the Church has a reputation as an aggressive competitor,
leading crusades to pressure people to upgrade to Catholicism, and entering
into exclusive licensing arrangements in various kingdoms whereby all
subjects were instilled with Catholicism, whether or not they planned to use
it. Today Christianity is available from several denominations, but the
Catholic version is still the most widely used. The Church's mission is to
"the four corners of the earth,
" echoing MICROSOFT's vision of
computer on every desktop and in every home
Gates described MICROSOFT's long-term strategy to develop a scaleable
religious architecture that will support all religions through emulation. A
single core religion will be offered with a choice of interfaces according
to the religion desired --
"One religion, a couple of different
" said Gates.
The MICROSOFT move could spark a wave of mergers and acquisitions, according to Herb Peters, a spokesman for the US Southern Baptist Conference, as other churches scramble to strengthen their position in The increasingly competitive religious market.
Microsoft, AP: No Laughing Matter
NEW YORK--Microsoft Corp. on Friday disavowed a joke circulating on the Internet in the form of a fake news story that said the software company planned to acquire the Roman Catholic church. The fake news story purported to have been written by The Associated Press. The news service said it had no connection with the joke.
The joke has circulated on the Internet, the global network of computer networks, for at least a week.
Microsoft issued its statement after several days of calls from people
who thought the
" might be true, company spokeswoman Christine Santucci said.
"Given the seriousness of the issue, it's not something we wanted to be associated with,
" she said.
Neither Microsoft nor AP know where the fake story originated.
Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., is the world's largest maker of personal computer software. The AP, headquartered in New York, is the world's largest news organization.