This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Arundel and Brighton's Festival 50

This weekend the pope's visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay has been overshadowed by a much more significant event - the 50th Birthday Celebrations of the Arundel and Brighton Diocese. Here are some of the events you may have missed by going to Ecuador instead.

Richard Moth

Bishop Moth requested that we NOT sing "If I were a butterfly..."

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor gave a keynote address on "How Team Bergoglio chose the new pope", explaining that if it hadn't been for his efforts we'd have been landed with Cardinal Dolan demonstrating papal inanity.

(Anglican) Archbishop Rowan Williams spoke on "Anglicans, Catholics and Druids - they're all the same really," before saying - in an apparent reference to austerity measures - "We must all make sacrifices!"

Rowan Williams the druid

Off to Stonehenge!

Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP explained his highly original views on "Gay sex - it's God's gift, it's Catholic, and it's eucharistic!"

We also enjoyed a performance of Paul Inwood's "gathering chant" "Prepare the way of the Lord, Moo-oo-oo, Moo-oo-oo".

Of course there were many other speakers, whose names did not appear on the official programme:

Michael Coren gave a fascinating lecture on "Why Catholics are right", before bursting into tears and saying "Actually, this week I'm a Jehovah's Witness."

Anthony Kennedy and Michael Coren

Michael Coren, also known as Judge Anthony Kennedy, a great fan of "gay marriage".

Damian Thompson of the Spectator spoke on "Attending Mass - an old Catholic tradition revived". He explained that - contrary to popular belief - attending mass was not forbidden by Vatican II, and that many traddies were trying to revive the custom.

Bishop Emeritus Kieran Conry gave an address on "If you're chaste, expect to be caught!" and showed us his very interesting holiday snaps.

Darth Sidious

Entertainment from the ACTA youth group.

Basil Loftus gave a speech entitled "Proud to be a heretic", in which he said that future generations would forget Gnosticism, Arianism, Pelagianism, and Nestorianism, and instead speak in hushed tones of Loftusism, which contained a far richer collection of wacky ideas.

Finally, Professor Tina Beattie gave a surprising talk, in which she swore total fidelity to the Catholic Magisterium and labelled anyone who tried to change Catholic teaching "a heretic of the worst kind". She was later taken to hospital complaining of sunstroke.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

The Ship of Liars

Our Mystery Readers are volunteers who read religious blogs for us around the world.

Mystery Reader: Brother Eccles.
The blog: The Ship of Fools.
Denomination: In this case, liberal Catholic with a dash of Satanism.

sinking ship

The Ship of Fools

What was the name of the post? Hatchet job on Fr Ray Blake's church, St Mary Magdalen, Brighton.

Did anyone welcome you personally? No, I had to use my own initiative, and read what was written on the blog, in order to find out what was going on. If they ever had a ministry of welcome, it must have been suppressed.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the writer? 1 - The writer, one Bunbury O'Remus, appears to be a self-centred type who would be shocked if anything sacred happened in a service. He whinged and moaned that the votive candles didn't come with instructions, that the service seemed to be all about God, with no reference to parish activities, that he didn't manage to work out that the signs saying "Parish Centre" referred to the parish centre, and that the priest wore a ... shock! horror! ... maniple.

maniple

The maniple - fills the wicked man's heart with terror!

The maniple is "an emblem of the tears of penance, the burden of sin, and the fatigue of the priestly office". Of course nowadays a handkerchief (preferably with rainbow stripes) is more commonly used, at least in some circles.

Which part of the blog was like being in heaven? The writer did have some charitable things to say about the music.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place? The writer embellished an anecdote about a mobile phone going off with extra details designed to show the priest in a bad light (these now seem to have been removed after Fr Blake gave a correct version of the facts).

What happened when you hung around after reading the blog, looking lost? Nothing at all. I was forced to use my own initiative and find a blog more suitable for saved people.

St Peter's Square

A blog more suitable for saved people.

How would you describe the after-blog coffee? There was none on offer. I was forced to go into the kitchen and make my own.

Did the blog make you feel glad to be a Christian? Yes, it reinforced my general feeling of superiority as a Christian blogger, and that can't be bad. Mr O'Remus claimed "I would have spent the time more profitably had I simply meditated in silence for the hour or so," which suggests that he rather missed the point of the Mass - perhaps he would be happier as a Buddhist?

Brother Bunbury also claimed that the thing he would most remember was the restored lighting fixtures. Here we are then. Who needs church at all?

chandelier

A subject for meditation in silence.

Sex and the Psalms

The Eccles Bible project has rather stalled recently, as Eccles has been too busy taking part in "Sloth Pride" events - or rather, not bothering - so we have asked Fr Phil Barney of the Church of St Daryl the Apostate to run this week's class.

Hi, I'm Fr Phil, and I've written today's analysis after consulting the writings of great thinkers such as Hans Küng, Tina Beattie, Tony Flannery, Timothy Radcliffe and Stephen Fry. For a long time we've all realised that the main point of religion is SEX, and we see this in the Book of Psalms as well.

Of course in St Daryl's we don't "do" the responsorial psalm, preferring to chant selections from Laudato Si to the tune of some modern pop song - perhaps something catchy by Gary Glitter or Rolf Harris. Still, I'm grateful to Eccles for letting me explain the psalms in the context of our GOD IS SEX project.

St Daryl the Apostate's is PROUD.

We'll be using the Good News Bible, as it's written for people with the IQ of a mollusc, with all the theological subtleties removed. Now, most of the psalms are definitely unsuitable for worship, as they are all about praising God - a rather controversial notion these days. Look how Psalm 6 starts:

Lord, don't be angry and rebuke me!
Don't punish me in your anger!
I am worn out, O Lord; have pity on me!
Give me strength; I am completely exhausted
and my whole being is deeply troubled.
How long, O Lord, will you wait to help me?
How inappropriate in this day and age! Calling on the "Lord" to sort out problems that should be addressed to your social worker, homeopathic doctor, or sex counsellor! We've got beyond that, surely?

Van Gogh picture

Give me strength; I am completely exhausted.

There's a lot of stuff in the Psalms about the Love of God. Nowadays, we only use "love" to mean "sex", so passages such as this (Psalm 13), apparently addressed to God, are clearly unsuitable for modern audiences.

I rely on your constant love;
I will be glad, because you will rescue me.

What's more, the psalmist seems to be unware that PRIDE is GOOD. Look at Psalm 59:

Sin is on their lips; all their words are sinful;
may they be caught in their pride!
Because they curse and lie,
destroy them in your anger;
destroy them completely.
Ian McKellen

Ian McKellen reminds us that PRIDE is GOOD.

In fact the psalms seem totally to misunderstand the main social issues of today - no mention of same-sex weddings (or any other), nothing about equality and diversity, climate change, etc. Still, the issue of the family is touched on in Psalm 112:

The good man's children will be powerful in the land;
his descendants will be blessed.
His family will be wealthy and rich,
and he will be prosperous forever. 
Blair Christmas card

A good man enjoying prosperity.

Well, those lines are a bit more in keeping with modern values! Of course, if the children were produced by IVF, ideally with a "borrowed" mother helping out a male couple, then that would be even better. But we mustn't be heterophobic here: let's recognise that some male/female relationships can be tolerated, even if we don't think they're natural!

Anyway, you see now why we don't use the psalms at St Daryl's - they really aren't relevant to contemporary issues, such as SEX. However, the last psalm, Psalm 150, makes a good point:

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his Temple!
Praise his strength in heaven!
Praise him for the mighty things he has done.
Praise his supreme greatness.
Praise him with trumpets.
Praise him with harps and lyres.
Praise him with drums and dancing.
Praise him with harps and flutes.
Praise him with cymbals.
Praise him with loud cymbals.
Praise the Lord, all living creatures!
Praise the Lord!
A few outmoded concepts there - God, temple, Heaven, Praise, etc. but the main idea - that we should play our guitars and show off our liturgical dancing - is clear!

Dolan on parade

"Come right in!"

Sunday, 28 June 2015

It's Sloth Pride!

Brother Eccles couldn't be bothered to write this post himself, so we arranged for some else to put it together.

We are lazy, and we are proud of it! For too long the Catholic Church has persecuted those who share our orientation towards work (we turn our backs on it). However, we in the LBDN - Lazy Blighters Doing Nothing - Community are now ready to take action - although obviously we won't do very much.

Some people are lazy

Posters like this will soon be seen everywhere. Or maybe we won't bother.

Is it really right in this post-Vatican II era that Sloth should be a deadly sin? Why do the Catholics refuse to marry people who won't make the effort to go to church? Why should lazy people be prevented from taking communion, just because they stay in bed all day? For too long the Church has shown institutinalized Acediaphobia! Well, times are changing, and we slobs are coming out of the closet, although we'll probably be having a lie-down soon!

empty streets

London's Sloth Pride March! Unfortunately, nobody turned up.

We have the support of many senior clergy. We got someone to write a letter to Vincent Nichols, asking if he would give us a special church in the Westminster Archdiocese, where Sloth Masses could be held (we could watch them on television, of course). Cardinal Nichols showed true Sloth Awareness by not bothering to answer us. Likewise, in America we approached Cardinal Dolan; he was on a "Gluttony Pride" march at the time, but he did make us feel welcome.

empty pews

See! Sloth Masses are just like any other!

We even asked the Holy Father to dash off an encyclical for us, perhaps to be called Panem Otiosa. (I must look that up sometime, I'm told it's from Proverbs 31:27.) If he doesn't do it, we'll know he's supporting us by his actions! Indeed, Cardinal Kasper has already told us that we have the full support of the Pope, and that the 2015 Synod on the Family will welcome spokesmen for the lazy, the idle, the slothful and the work-shy. Not that any will be turning up.

Equal rights for the Lazy!

proud sloth

Sloth Pride!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

President Obama discovers that he is saved

It is now possible to listen to President Barack Obama singing "Amazing Grace" in public. For many of us there are problems with this hymn, as it assumes that salvation is automatic once you sign up to the Calvary Chapel, Southern Methodists, Salvation Army, Freemasons, etc., and that the Day of Judgement will be a mere formality. In the words of Mr Obama, "We is all saved persons. Hallelujah!"

Obama sings Amazing Grace

"For an encore, I'll sing the Dies Irae."

Obama began by singing the following lines:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch* like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
*One mark for self-awareness.

He later explained - exclusively to this blog - how those words applied to him personally. "Yes, I know Google offers 27,100,000 results for 'Crimes of Barack Obama', but I am a changed man. I no longer support late-term abortion. I condemn those creepy judges who said that changing the definition of marriage to include homosexual couples was linked to the U.S. Constitution. Now that Jesus has entered into my life, and I is saved, I has renounced evil."**

**As my Brother Bosco will confirm, when Jesus enters your life, you also renounce grammar.

burning the rainbow flag

A symbolic gesture from a newly-saved president.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
It is not clear when exactly Barack Obama first believed in any god other than himself. but if he says he is saved, who are we to judge?

We asked the President how - as a saved person - he would be dealing with the real crises of the world such as the massacres of ISIS. He kindly granted us an exclusive picture in which he is seen to be taking charge. Hallelujah!

Obama playing golf

A saved person shows how to deal with Islamic terrorism.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Pope Francis declares himself fallible

The Catholic Church enjoyed a rare moment of unity today, when Pope Francis made an ex cathedra declaration of the doctrine of the fallibility of the Pope. For nearly 150 years, successive Popes had enjoyed the status of "infallible", but under such restrictive circumstances that the doctrine was almost meaningless: the Pope must speak ex cathedra, he must speak on faith or morals, he must have the permission of the editor of the Tablet, he must be wearing the holy socks of Pope Pius IX, and he must speak in Latin. All this is now (infallibly) swept away.

Pope Pius IX, the possibly fallible.

There has always been a slight paradox in the notion of papal infallibility, since Pope Pius IX was not infallible until he declared that he was, and so maybe he was never infallible after all. By that logic, anyone who declares himself infallible (e.g. Richard Dawkins or Giles Fraser) could be regarded as such.

Note that Papal infallibility has always been misunderstood by non-Catholics, who make trolling remarks such as "Hee, hee, hee, if he's infallible, why doesn't he tell us who's going to win the 2.30 at Newmarket today?" In fact the Pope KNOWS but he is not allowed to TELL (cf. the secrets of Fatima).

And the winner is Pope's Fancy at 100-8.

Still, there was a general sigh of relief today when Pope Francis renounced infallibility. Some Catholics were worried that he was going to declare that carbon dioxide was the Devil's gas; others feared that he might declare that Jesus's words about divorce were in some sense part of infallible Catholic teaching. (Which bits of Jesus's teaching are to be regarded as infallible is another good question for Catholics: apparently this will be answered at a forthcoming synod.)

The Holy Father himself is greatly relieved, now that he no longer officially infallible. He commented: "I admit that I contradict myself on a daily basis, and so it is a great weight off my mind to know that it really doesn't matter. Actually - what am I saying? - I don't contradict myself, and it does matter. Oh never mind."

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

How do I write a good encyclical?

You may think it will never happen to you, but perhaps one day the world will knock on your door demanding an encyclical. This may be because you have been elected Pope, or possibly because the editor of the Telegraph would like a few hundred space-filling words from you on any subject that takes your fancy. So here is a guide to writing encyclicals.

Pope Francis writing

"Once upon a time..."

1. Choose a good title. Maybe you should do this last, when you have seen what you have actually written, but usually two or three words in Latin, expressing some deep philosophical idea, will do. CAVE CANEM, perhaps, or ILLEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM. Or you can use Italian, as Pope Francis did in his recent piece O SOLE MIO. (Memo: check the title.)

It has been noticed that James Bond movies are also a good source of encyclical titles: "You only live twice", "Tomorrow never dies", "The world is not enough", "Skyfall", etc. Given a good title, the encyclical virtually writes itself.

2. We'll assume that you're addressing this encyclical to faithful Catholics, with an eye to its being approved by liberals such as Hillary Clinton, Giles Fraser, etc. who will cherry-pick the bits they like. You can spice it up with lots of non-dogmatic stuff - e.g., your favourite recipe for rice pudding - knowing that this is not part of the Magisterium of Catholic teaching. There is no need to point out that those who wish to cook rice pudding in a different way are not automatically heretics. Although they probably are.

rice pudding

A non-heretical rice pudding.

3. When we come to the more dogmatic stuff, then Catholics are expected to take it seriously. So anything you say about sex will be regarded as important, because that's all that most people think of when you mention moral teaching. Reminding people of what previous writers have said - especially if it is obviously good sense - will earn you kudos too. So, point out that, in the words of Aquinas, "God sent the almond tree to flourish in the wilderness. However, extracting cyanide from it and using it to poison your neighbour is a neo-Pelagian habit, and should be rejected."

sparkling cyanide

Warning! There's a neo-Pelagian about!

4. Be brief! You may have been spammed with 200 pages of pro-genocidal propaganda from an atheist friend called Schnellzug, but there is no need to copy and paste it into your encyclical (the same goes for viagra adverts and offers of untold wealth from the widows of Nigerian dictators). Stick to the point: "STOP SINNING," "READ THE BIBLE," "STAY SAVED," "BRUSH YOUR TEETH" - that sort of teaching is clear and orthodox. There is no need to mention carbon dioxide more than 12 times - in fact most popes managed to avoid mentioning it at all.

5. Don't be pretentious. "The people of the world are in pain, and the Earth itself cries out with a bad headache." Who do you think you are? Leonardo Boff? Similarly, Yoko Ono-style advice such as "When you go to bed tonight, take a hedgehog with you. You will not sleep, but the hedgehog will love you" is a waste of time, and very dubious theology.

hedgehog

A grateful hedgehog.

Well I hope that was helpful. Get encycling, guys!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Julia Carpet-Chewer tells the Pope to shut up

Pope Francis's little essay Laudato Si' has received some strange responses, such as an enthusiastic reception by the Hillary Clintons of this world, who didn't spot the attack on abortion. However, the silliest must be Julia Carpet-Chewer's piece in the Telegraph. To save readers from severe brain injury caused by hitting their heads against the wall in reaction to her obsessive drivelling, we will give you a more coherent summary.

Julia Hartley-Brewer

Just do us a hatchet job on Pope Francis, Julia. It doesn't need to make sense!

So, the Pope's written an encyclical on the environment!!?? Most of my readers won't know this, but he the top Catholic, and so some people will be taking his words seriously!! When that's precisely the reason why HE MUST BE WRONG. What's worse, he's dabbling in science, even though he only has an Argentinian Diploma in "Chemistry for Theologians", unlike myself - I've got a Nobel Prize in "Stinks", even though I don't advertise this widely!!

Muppets

Pope Francis and Mgr Guido Marini. Need I comment??!!

Popes are very bad at science. Benedict XVI told people that having sex with all and sundry might give them AIDS. Whereas everyone knows that the real answer is for men to wear condoms at all times, even when not having sex!! What's more, there was Galileo!! And now me!! For years I've been trying to convince the Pope that the sun shines out of my backside - but he refuses to listen!!

Julia's Law: Catholics don't understand science!! Forget Mendel!! Forget Lemaître!! Forget Lavoisier!! Forget Marconi!! Forget Pasteur!! All idiots!!

But WHAT IS FAR FAR WORSE than the Pope's dabbling in science and claiming that filling the air with poison could be a bad thing - I've been doing it for years without any ill effects - is the Pope's attempt TO DEFINE CATHOLIC MORALITY!! Pass the valium, nurse, I'm about to explode!!

smoke stacks

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like (my) home. Got a problem with that??!!

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS WRONG ON EVERYTHING. Murder?? What's wrong with that?? Adultery?? No problems!! Theft?? False Witness?? The Catholic Church is clinging onto viewpoints that are stuck in the Dark Ages and is wrong on every issue!! Faith, Hope and Love?? Arentchasickovem!! Why, if St Paul had been around today he'd have said this:

Now abide these four - gay marriage, women priests, divorce and death - and the greatest of these is death. Whether it's tearing babies to pieces in the womb, or sending your granny on a surprise trip to Dignitas, God wants death every time!

Never mind all that nonsense about the Catholic Church providing schools, hospitals, famine relief programmes, etc. THEY ONLY DO IT TO DRAW ATTENTION AWAY FROM THEIR INNATE EVIL.

Harveys Brewery

Julia Harveys-Brewery

Look, just wait until the Julia Harveys-Brewery encyclical is published, provisionally called "I'm a Loud Hater, See!" I'll soon put the Catholic Church in order!!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Religious leaders comment on the environment

Well, never mind the Pope's encyclical for the moment. What do other religious leaders have to say?

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama.

The isness of the one is the oneness of the all. We are one with the Earth, and the Earth is one with us. Putting it more simply, the wholeness of the essence of being is the key to the oneness of the why. If I say to myself, "Hello, Dalai!" then am I not talking to myself? Whereas, if I say to a tree, "Hello, Laurel," then am I not communing with the Universe? The upshot of that is that we should talk to trees, indeed we should listen to trees. For are we not trees ourselves? I know I am.

Justin Welby

Justin Welby.

Now, it's not for an Anglican clergyman to preach to you; indeed, until my opinions have been approved by a 2/3 majority at the General Synod, we cannot be sure that they are truly the will of God - if He exists, and that's a question that we still aren't agreed on! However, I think I can stick my neck out here and say - in a very real sense - that if we are all doomed to be inconvenienced by War, Famine, Disease and Death, then this will be jolly unpopular in some circles. Still, I am happy to reassure my critics that the Church of England is instituting a system of "Smoking Bishops" to minister to those who think that being drowned by rising seas and bursting into flames is a good thing on the whole. So, as usual, we are catering for all beliefs and none. After all, that's why we're here!

Abu Hamza

Imam Abu Hamza.

We are all called to Jihad, and by that I mean the massacre of the infidel. But Allah asks us to do this in a way that respects the planet. Beheading Christians is ecologically sound - it has a very low carbon footprint - whereas shooting them releases dangerous greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. I used to be quite keen on the use of landmines, until I discovered Green Terrorism; nowadays I respect all nature - except for humans of course.

screaming clown

Brother Bosco of the Calvary Chapel.

I don't care about the environment. If the Pope says we must respect it, then he's saying this as part of some international baby-eating conspiracy including the Jesuits, the freemasons, Sepp Blatter, the Mafia, the Inland Revenue, the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing show, and the Mothers' Union. Trust me, I read all about it on wehatecatholics.org, catholicsarecannibals.com, letsbitethecarpet.org, makeupyourowndrivel.net and Richard Dawkins's website weluvdicky.org. The Catholics are just using atmospheric pollution as a smokescreen. Nurse! Where's my medication?

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Laud-a-to-si Chorus

For those who haven't time to read the whole encyclical, here's a singable version, which contains the essence of the Pope's thinking. The more traddy version is here, with music by Handel.
Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si!
For the environment's a mess.
Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si!

For the environment's a mess.
Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si! 
Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si! 
choir in St Peter's, Rome

Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si!

The world is heating up
Yes it's true, the world is heating up,
It's all your fault, it's all your fault;
And we shall burn for ever and ever,
For ever and ever, for ever and ever.
lake of fire

If only we'd turned those lights off!

Carbon's bad, yes, carbon's bad,
Carbon's bad, yes, carbon's bad,
Yes, carbon's bad,
And we shall burn,
And we shall burn for ever and ever.
Carbon's bad, for ever and ever,
Yes, carbon's bad,
Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si!
Paul Inwood

"Hmm! A bit repetitive!" (Paul Inwood)

And we shall burn for ever and ever.
Carbon's bad, yes, carbon's bad,
And we shall burn for ever and ever.
Carbon's bad, yes, carbon's bad,
Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si! Laud-a-to-si! 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Eccles encyclical is leaked

Pope Eccles writes:

I am deeply shocked that the draft text of my new encyclical on the environment, Sanctus Fumus, has been leaked by a consortium of people including Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Sandro Magister. These people have of course been excommunicated, along with a few other dubious characters I've been waiting to deal with such as Enda Kenny, Timothy Radcliffe and Reinhard Marx.

polluting chimneys

Sanctus Fumus! I reveal that pollution is a BAD THING.

Of course one of the leading causes of global warming is the leaking of encyclicals into the environment, so I hope that the Reverend Magister and friends are deeply ashamed of themselves.

Well, now that I have seen the reaction to my encyclical (or blog post, as I prefer to call it), I have decided to revise it. However, the bit about how popes are always the right people to ask about scientific questions is to be left as it is, and I am definitely keeping the short 500-page discussion of how Pope Urban VIII dealt with "space deniers", such as Galileo, who refused to believe that the Earth orbited round the Moon.

Urban Spaceman

I'm the Urban Spaceman - as my predecessor declared.

Strange name, Urban. It's like being Pope Municipal, or something. But I digress.

Anyway, do wait for the final version of the encyclical before commenting. Apart from the general waffle about climate change, which I've mostly copied-and-pasted from James Delingpole, er, I mean Geoffrey Lean, there's some cracking good stuff about how abortion kills babies, which probably won't be widely reported, as well as some new jokes about people changing low-energy lightbulbs, which Mgr Guido Marini tells me will make my encyclical appeal more to the "yoof" of today. Yo, dudes!

pedal-powered Popemobile

The planet is not saved, only I am saved.

Monday, 15 June 2015

The Spirit of Magna Carta

As readers will be aware, today is the anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta - a little-known Vatican II document - by "King" John XXIII, who had been forced to make concessions to the powerful barons of the Church (known in those days as bishops). Since Magna Carta has long been regarded as the main origin of the rights enjoyed by modern Catholics, it may be helpful to explain exactly what these are.

John XIII

King John XXIII checks the Magna Carta.

It was agreed:

1. That the following sins were no longer to be considered as serious, or to be punished by eternal damnation: murder, theft, adultery, false witness, coveting neighbours' oxen.

2. That no Catholic could be forced to sing "Shine, Jesus, shine," "Lord of the Dance," "If I were a butterfly," or anything by Paul Inwood.

3. That no Catholic could be forced to attend clown masses, puppet masses, gay masses, or masses with liturgical dancing.

Dalek mass

The same applies to Dalek masses.

4. That retiring collections should be optional (the official position of "burly chap who stares menacingly at you until you have coughed up money for CAFOD to squander" being abolished).

5. That masses need no longer be in Latin, but the common people were allowed to worship using vernacular expressions such as "Eee, by gum", "Yaki da, boyo" and "Cor, strike a light, guv!"

6. That the "Kiss of Peace" was strictly optional, and anyone seen prodding his neighbour in order to intimidate her into a kiss would be considered guilty of assault.

mouse kissing cat

Eeek, my lunch just kissed me!

7. That the barons would be allowed to celebrate Ascension Day, Corpus Christi, etc. on any day that suited them, rather than using the same ecclesiastical calendar as the King.

Such hard-won rights continue to this day, so we are indeed lucky to have Magna Carta.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

2067: the date of the Second Coming

A revised version of a Spectator piece by Damian Thompson.

When my editor asked me to write a scare story for the Spectator, I considered several possible scenarios:

2067: the date that world reserves of custard will run out.

Eccles cake and custard

A possible victim of world food shortages.

Pretty scary, you'll agree, but in fact this is not going to happen. Here's something more likely.

2067: the end of the Daily Telegraph.

This is more probable. Indeed, now that the Telegraph is basically a clone of the Daily Mail, without the intellectual gravitas of a Richard Littlejohn or a Piers Morgan, we may expect the last rites by 2017, shortly after Tim Stanley finally gives it up as a bad job.

Kim Kardashian

The Mail offers Kim Kardashian as the thinking man's Cristina Odone.

2067: the end of British Christianity.

This one is pretty certain, too. My own priest, Mgr Bottletop, is worried about declining congregations, and it can't be due to the fact that certain priests refused to sign a letter sticking up for Catholic teaching on marriage and the family. No, the Catholics and Anglican leaders have done their best to fit in with the "Spirit of the Age" and to reject anything that would make Christians look somehow "different" from liberal secularists. Richard Dawkins could walk into most of our churches without finding anything to throw a tantrum about. It's all very mysterious.

bar chart

By 2100 there will be MINUS THREE MILLION Christians in the UK.

The above chart was helpfully provided by my former colleague Geoffrey Lean, who also tells me that climate change will cause his zimmer frame to burst into flames tomorrow. It proves that we are in deep trouble, and Christianity in the UK will become extinct at 3.13 pm. on August 27th 2067. Indeed, I'll be over 100 by then, and probably departed to that great Newspaper in the Sky, and the same goes for most of my friends. All right, there'll be a few bishops left: indeed, that man Cormac Murphy-O'Connor will only be 130-odd, so I expect he'll still be meddling in things. But no Christians as such.

John Laurie as a cardinal

We're doomed, I tell ye. We're doomed!

2067: the Second Coming.

Actually, this is the most likely scenario. I took an Eccles tour to Medjugorje ("Your money back guaranteed if you don't get a personal apparition of the Virgin Mary"), and as a result I became convinced that we live in the end times. In fact, it was the hotel cleaner not the Virgin Mary who appeared to me, but - whoever she was - she was very persuasive. Basically the Lord is fed up with the whole human race, and wants to try something else. And who can blame Him?

Lego bishop

With spiritual leaders like this, are you surprised?

Thursday, 11 June 2015

New Encyclical eagerly awaited

Corinth, 55 A.D.

Next week sees the publication of a new encyclical, provisionally entitled 1 Corinthians; since the Holy Father (Peter) is rather busy with audiences, travels, and photo-opportunities at the moment, it is believed that the encyclical has been mostly drafted by a very senior colleague, probably Cardinal Paul.

Cardinal Pell

Cardinal Paul, with the draft encyclical.

So what shall we see in the new encyclical? Will it refer to climate change on the Sea of Galilee, to the man who sowed a crop of wheat only to find that his enemy sowed biofuels among it, or to wind farms near Jerusalem? No, of course not, this is the Catholic Church, and the purpose of the encyclical is to save souls, not to argue about energy policies.

We have learned that Cardinal Paul is not too keen on Christians taking other Christians to law, even if they are accused of heresy in each other's blogs (e.g. making schoolboy blunders such as saying that the Holy Spirit is a girl). We may also expect that the encyclical will be very strict on immorality, probably with a strongly hostile reference to the recent same-sex marriage referendum in Corinth.

mantillas

Catherine Pepinster, Elena Curti, Tina Beattie, and Timothy Radcliffe.

Readers of the Tablet will also be dismayed to learn that women are encouraged to cover their heads in church and to SHUT UP. That means you, Catherine. And you, Tina.

Cardinal Paul will also entertain us with little snippets of news from his past life: for example, did you know that when he was a child, he spoke as a child, he understood as a child, and he thought as a child? But that when he became a man, he put away childish things? In fact he gave most of them to Cardinal Kasper.

Eccles doll, now in the possession of Cardinal Kasper.

We are expecting to see a final ruling on the big question of our times: Is Faith, Hope, or Charity the best of the virtues? We have been unable to get a peek at the encyclical, but our religious affairs correspondent, St Damian the spectator, has heard from sources close to Cardinal Paul that the answer will be "Hope".

Charity Commission

Whatever happened to the Faith Commission and Hope Commission?

So what is the purpose of this encyclical, apart from the usual one of allowing senior clergy to pretend that people actually care what they think? Cardinal Paul says that the document is not meant to make people feel ashamed but to "admonish" them as beloved children. Well, not me of course, but you might want to change your ways a little...