"Geffen Records, whose roster of stars has included Guns n' Roses, Elton John, Donna Summer, and Snoop Dogg," said Mark Brown in the London Guardian, has just "signed a new artist—Pope Benedict XVI." The album, Alma Mater, will feature "his holiness" singing a Marian prayer and speaking Lauretan Litanies in various languages, accompanied by eight original pieces of modern classical music, and it's scheduled to be "released in time for the Christmas rush."

The Pope could easily be "a contender" for the No. 1 Christmas album, said Ben Hoyle in the London Times Online. "He is a debut artist with an established global following," and if his album "connects to even a small percentage of the world's billion Catholics it should blow the likes of Jay-Z, Robbie Williams, and Susan Boyle from Britain's Got Talent out of the water in the race for end of year sales."

What's surprising about the Pope's album, said Stephen Adams in the Daily Telegraph, is that it "will not be sold as a digital download." But Universal, which owns Geffen, is still expecting big profits—some of which the record company will split with the Vatican, the rest going "to a charity that will provide musical education for poor children around the world."