Vatican goes Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da on Beatles

In what is likely to be the most fun story of the week

The Vatican newspaper has noted the 40th anniversary of the White Album, praising the Beatles’ “unique and strange alchemy of sounds and words.”

L’Osservatore Romano even dismisses Lennon’s famous line that his band was “more popular than Jesus.”

The article said it was just “showing off, bragging by a young English working-class musician who had … enjoyed unexpected success.”

Too bad John’s not around to react…

If I remember correctly, one of the songs on the White Album, “Dear Prudence,” was about Mia Farrow’s sister, who was with the Beatles when they were studying Transcendental Meditation in India.

A strange alchemy, indeed.

The Vatican’s website doesn’t have the story yet, but check back Wednesday to see if an English-language version of the article pops up…

Muslims pass Catholics in numbers

There are now more Muslims in the world than Roman Catholics, the Vatican’s newspaper has announced.

But there are still more Christians overall…

Here’s the AP summary:

By ALESSANDRA RIZZO
Associated Press Writer

VATICAN CITY (AP) _ Islam has surpassed Roman Catholicism as the world’s largest religion, the Vatican newspaper said Sunday.

“For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us,” Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. Formenti compiles the Vatican’s yearbook.

He said that Catholics accounted for 17.4 percent of the world population — a stable percentage — while Muslims were at 19.2 percent.

“It is true that while Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer,” the monsignor said.

Formenti said that the data refer to 2006. The figures on Muslims were put together by Muslim countries and then provided to the United Nations, he said, adding that the Vatican could only vouch for its own data.

When considering all Christians and not just Catholics, Christians make up 33 percent of the world population, Formenti said.

Spokesmen for the Vatican and the United Nations did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Sunday.