This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Lenten Reflections on Modernism

This blog will soon be closing for Lent, as I retire into the contemplative life of a hermit. I shall move to a shed on the Costa Blanca, where my only companions will be my four faithful hippopotamuses: Dolan, Pickles, Batmanghelidjh, and Auntie Moly. As a modern St Francis - or maybe St Augustine of Hippo - I shall exchange spiritually nourishing ideas with these highly intelligent creatures, but, except possibly on some Sundays, there will be nothing new to read on this blog.

hippo

Auntie Moly has a spiritually nourishing idea.

So, to give you material for reflection during Lent, here are some thoughts on modernism in a religious context.

Mallard

Pre-Vatican II. A spiritual experience. Note the clouds of incense.

cheap train

Post-Vatican II. Worshippers don't even know where they're going.

The revolution in Catholicism can be traced to three events, which collectively are known as "Vatican II". First, there was the Beeching report, saying that churches should be modernized, some being closed down and the others becoming soul-less. The results can be seen above - in the "modernist" service we don't even know which way the priest's going to be facing. "Extraordinary form" services still exist, but the Spirit of Vatican II is against them, and they are often only available to the lucky few in churches run by enthusiasts.

Boycott batting

Traddy worship. Note how Fr Boycott's vestments are liturgically appropriate.

pyjama cricket

Bad vestments with the priest's name on the back!

Second, there was the move to bad vestments, and the rush to complete all one's worship in one day. Before Vatican II, a Mass could easily last five days, with intervals for lunch and tea. Experienced worshippers would use terms such as "night-watchman" (usually a disparaging reference to a deacon who came in for the night-time vigil), and "state of the pitch" (a reference to the quality of the unaccompanied Gregorian chant). These concepts have now largely disappeared.

Jon Pertwee

An asperges from Pope Pertwee.

Peter Capaldi

A guitar Mass with Pope Capaldi.

Finally, there was the Medicus Quis. In the olden days, Pope St Pertwee's main recipe for salvation was to "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow," which in theological terms means "turn back, O Man, forswear thy foolish ways." He often found salvation via the ventilation shaft (whence came the "rushing wind" of the Holy Spirit), and his services never employed guitars; only rarely did he use gimmicks such as the sonic screwdriver.

Pope Capaldi, on the other hand, relies almost exclusively on the sonic screwdriver. A demon appears? Zap it. A penitent needs a blessing? Zap him (oops. you weren't supposed to use the same setting, Father). Alleluia, zap-zap!

I hope these little thoughts will help you to stay saved during Lent. At least the hippopotamuses appreciated them.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Pope Francis refuses to meet the Mayor of Whitby

Councillor Heather Coughlan, Mayor of Whitby, has reacted angrily to reports that Pope Francis will be meeting with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, but has, as yet "no plans to visit Whitby".

Patriarch Kirill

Nicene Nice one, Kyrill.

"What is it with Francis?" asked the mayor angrily. "He's happy to talk to Lutherans, Anglicans, Orthodox - even Catholics sometimes. But he refuses to consult Whitby town council when it comes to discussing an alternative date for Easter."

In fact, Pope Francis's negotiating position with Patriarch Kirill is more wide-ranging than this, being based on three demands (the fourth was considered to be "a step too far"):

1. Use the Gregorian Calendar.
2. Drop that stupid alphabet.
3. Stick "Filioque" in the Creed.
4. Get involved in gay masses, clown masses, and liturgical dancing.
Many of Whitby's most famous inhabitants, such as, er, Captain Cook and Dracula, are known to have favoured the current method for deciding the date of Easter; this was agreed at the Synod in A.D. 664 and has survived the changes brought on by the Reformation, Vatican II, etc.

Dracula at Whitby

A tense moment at the Synod of Whitby.

If a new date for Easter is agreed now, then it is likely that Yorkshire will go it alone, sticking to the present means of calculating it. After all, what's one more schism between friends? It is thought that both John Sentamu (Anglican Archbishop of York) - who signs himself John Ebagum, using the Roman word for York - and Marcus Stock (Catholic Bishop of Leeds) are strongly supportive of the plan for a Yorkshire Easter.

As far as the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales is concerned, they would like to move Good Friday to a Sunday (cf. Epiphany and Ascension), but have not yet worked out how this would fit in with all the other plans under discussion. For Prime Minister David Cameron the important thing is that Easter Sunday should become an even more important shopping opportunity, the exact date being unimportant.

Cameron and yet another fish-shop

"Are you sure this is an Easter egg?"

Saturday, 6 February 2016

More letters to the Catholic Herald

For an eclectic mix of lunacy and wisdom, there are few sources like the Catholic Herald letters page, so here are some recent highlights.

"Fun" before Mass.

Your idiot of a correspondent thinks that the bedlam in many Catholic churches before and after Mass can be justified because "God doesn't mind". So bad have things come that I was told off by a priest last week because my silent prayer was disturbing those who were trying to text, gossip, laugh and play games of darts. Apparently it was putting a damper on the occasion.

pub darts

Those sacred minutes before Mass starts.

Indeed, I was warned that kneeling down and looking solemn was definitely a "holier-than-thou" attitude, not welcome in the Church of St Daryl the Apostate. Apparently, Fr Phil is making lots of exciting innovations, including a side-chapel where money-changers may operate, plus the opportunity to buy doves symbolizing the Spirit of Vatican II. I don't know about you, but this makes me feel vaguely uncomfortable.

Pastor Juventus F.C.

Faithful Catholics love the EU.

Stands to reason, dunnit, guv? Ever since Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor in 800 A.D., and the new emperor used his powers to deal with the pressing problems of curved bananas and mislabelled prunes, it has been clear that pious Catholics must support ever-closer European union.

Over the years several good Catholics such as Napoléon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler have tried to unify Europe, knowing that this was God's will. What's more, we should listen to the wise words of Pope Francis, which exhort us to believe in climate change, to give the Falkland Islands to Argentina, and to support the San Lorenzo football club. When popes make such statements it is a refreshing change from all the usual boring stuff about religion, and we should take their words seriously.

Pope and football shirt

"Supporters of other teams cannot be saved" says the Pope.

Yes, make no mistake, people who oppose having their laws made by corrupt, overpaid and unelected bureaucrats in Brussels are DAMNED. What's more, the Catholic Bishops' Conference in Mordor Square agrees with me!

Fr Cloud Cuckoo-Land.

Sack Ronnie Rolheiser!

Every week Ronald Rolheiser's column is entitled "The last word", but unfortunately he's always back again the following week. And he writes such drivel...

Eccles.

Ronald Rolheiser

The heart sinks (and what do Ron's hand gestures mean?)

And finally, a cheap shot from a Scots Nat.

Your correspondent writes, "In England we are preparing for a referendum on the EU." He didn't mention Scotland, and that proves that we nationalists won the independence vote. When we go to Heaven we shall feast on porridge and haggis, while praising God on the bagpipes. Och Aye!

Rabbi Burns.

bagpipe band

Praise the Lord upon the badly-tuned bagpipes!

Friday, 5 February 2016

Book about Church of England to be pulped

A new book about the Church of England, That Was The Church That Was, by spiritual giants Andrew Brown and Linda Woodhead, has been withdrawn by the publishers because of "a disputed passage about a Christian leader". Damian Thompson has made some valiant efforts to discover what the fuss is about, but only this blog has the real story.

That Was The Church That Was

This book is dynamite!

In fact, there are several allegations that the Church of England is desperately trying to suppress. The first concerns its founder, Henry VIII, who is as much a figure of veneration to all Anglicans as St Peter, and the man who earned the title Fidei Defensor, which his successors bear so proudly.

It is claimed that Henry VIII was a nasty piece of work who tended to cut people's heads off whenever he felt like it, and treated at least four of his six "wives" rather badly. If this gossip were to leak out - and so far only readers of this blog know it - then the Church of England would be forced to close.

Henry VIII

The skeleton in Justin Welby's cupboard.

Of course, dead people can't sue, and the publishers are really more worried about revelations about living Christian leaders. Take Prince Charles, for example. There are claims that he was a less than totally faithful husband to his first wife, Diana. (We can discount claims that his own father conspired to kill her, either with MI5, Amnesty International, or the Mothers' Union.) Still, this man will - in thirty years or so - become Supreme Governor of the Church, and if the secret ever leaks out...

Mohammed Fayed

Will Mo get his chance to be the first Muslim head of the C of E?

Other shocking stories circulating about senior Anglicans include rumours that Archbishop Rowan Williams has converted to druidism, that Archbishop George Carey supports assisted suicide, and that Canon Giles Fraser doesn't really believe in either the Devil or the Virgin Birth. If any of these turns out to be true, then the C of E may as well close down now and give most of its churches back to the Catholics.

Rowan the druid

The Archbishop of Stonehenge.

As Damian Thompson puts it: "For the time being, the Church of England is being protected from this atrocious book by somebody’s lawyers. But for how long?"

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Eccles gets a Blaised throat

Yesterday was the feast of St Blaise, and February 3rd is a very appropriate time of year to celebrate him, since he is the one to go to for throat problems. I myself have had various coughs and colds throughout this winter, so I went up after Mass yesterday to have my throat blessed.

St Blaise

St Blaise with 4th century medical equipment.

Now, what outcome should I have expected? If Jesus had healed me in person, then I would have leapt up rejoicing; but clearly one expects slightly less from a retired Irish priest fumbling around with two candles, even if he is somehow appealing to St Blaise for help.

Still, for a few hours I did feel quite a lot better: no coughing and only a slightly sore throat. Maybe it was psychological, or maybe Fr Jack had managed to invoke a minor miracle.

Now, the Bible itself doesn't have many positive things to say about throats. For example, there's Psalm 69: I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.

St Paul (Romans 3) is also somewhat discouraging: Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips. Who is he referring to? Well, all of us, it seems.

Morecambe and Wise, Glenda Jackson

Cleopatra prepares to take delivery of an asp.

So here we are at a new day. The throat is slightly better, perhaps, but still not cured. Perhaps someone can advise me: is the St Blaise cure simply a matter of time? Or should I put this one down as a failure (like when, as a child, I asked God to mend my bicycle lamp and He refused)?

Well, there's always Lourdes, I suppose, but it seems a long way to go for a cough.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Cardinal Wolsey claims success in Europe

London, 1529.

Ahead of the forthcoming referendum on whether the Church of England should remain part of the Catholic Church (a referendum in which only kings called Henry Tudor will be allowed to vote), prime minister Thomas Wolsey has returned from Europe claiming success in his negotiations.

Wolsey

"Call me Tom" Wolsey.

According to the negotiated settlement, King Henry will be allowed a quota of six wives, of which a maximum of two may be executed; most importantly, the first marriage may be annulled on the solid theological grounds that Henry is a lecherous slob. Caveat: these demands will be granted subject to a "red cardinal" system whereby they have to be approved by a majority of all the cardinals.

Other "English" demands will also be granted within a time-frame of at most 500 years (this is called "applying the emergency brake"). These include the right to conduct masses in English, with or without clowns and puppets, and to sing silly songs about Jesus shining and being Lord of the Dance. More extreme Anglican demands, such as the right to ordain women, are still rejected by the Catholic Church.

Giles Fraser

Thomas Cromwell, star of the Guardian's "Cromwell is free" pages.

The "leave Europe" campaign is currently being spearheaded by two theological giants, the blogger Cranmer and the very influential Thomas "Let's dissolve the churches" Cromwell.

It therefore seems unlikely that "Tom" Wolsey will be able to avoid defeat in the Reformation Referendum, and his future is now very uncertain.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Book of St Richard, Chapter 24

Continued from Chapter 23

1. And it came to pass that Richard was invited to the prestigious Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism; this was because many years ago he had been a scientist, and he was in those days still a skeptic, or at least a sceptic.

2. And he accepted with alacrity, saying, "It will enable me to rub shoulders with many luminaries of whom nobody has ever heard, not to mention Michael Mann, he who hath produced a 'hockey stick' graph showing that the world will be consumed by fire if we do not shower gold upon him."

3. "And, although I shall fly to New York, that I may claim the miles of air, yet shall I pretend that I walked from Oxford, so that my giant footprints of carbon be hidden from the gaze of Mann."

Chanty Binx

Cometh the Nemesis of Richard.

4. But it was not to be, for there came into Richard's life a woman named Chanty Binx.

5. This was a woman with red hair, not unlike the fair Mrs Dawkins; well, at least, if the fair Mrs Dawkins had decided to dress up for Hallowe'en to scare the breeches off Richard.

6. She was known as an example of the hard-line feminist that screameth abuse, hateth men, and sweareth like the fabled fishwives of the Gate of Billings.

7. So it came to pass that on the Tube of Yew there appeared a song that mocked extreme Islamists and feminists.

8. And Richard found pleasure in this song by a fellow-atheist, and recommended it to his disciples.

Islam and feminism

The shanty that mocketh Chanty.

9. However, as scripture hath it, "Stick not thy nose into a nest of hornets, lest it be stung until it swelleth like the hippopotamus of the Nile."

10. And Richard was told that he was encouraging rape and death threats.

11. For why did he not confine himself to attacking the followers of Christ, who deserved all they got?

12. Thus Richard's invitation to the fleshpots of New York was withdrawn; for, in the words of the prophet Necsas, "Unpopular and offensive views are fine, but if we disagree with them they become divisive, counterproductive, hate speech."

NECSS gets cold feet

Richard is banned from the "world's biggest bores" conference. [click to enlarge]

13. And some said "NECSS hath got cold feet. Doth Michael Mann know of this climatological phenomenon?"

14. But Richard was sore exasperated and said unto himself, "Atheists! Are ye not sick of them? CURSES, WHAT AM I SAYING???"

Dawkins wounded

Richard is wounded.

To be continued.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Woman believes she is a bishop

Psychologists are struggling to cope with a wave of "identification" crises. First we saw the case of Bruce Jenner, fathering six children and then deciding that he was really a woman and should be called Caitlin - although to be convinced that he was female we'd really need to see photos of him getting off the sofa and doing the washing up.

Nano

Nano the cat.

Next, we saw the Norwegian girl Nano, who said that she was really a cat trapped in a human's body. It is not known whether she lives on a diet of Whiskas and voles, but to be fair, she does claim to hunt mice at night, so maybe she really is a cat. Who are we to judge?

However, another case that has come to our attention strains the limits of credulity even further.

Rachel Treweek

Rachel the bishop.

Rachel Treweek, a 50-something speech therapist, has taken to dressing as a bishop, even referring herself as a "Lord Spiritual" and "Bishop of Gloucester". The UK being a tolerant place, nobody has challenged her when she goes around wearing bishop-clothes, especially as she shows better taste than the American "bishop" Katharine Jefferts Schori.

The case of women self-identifying as bishops is uniquely a late-20th and early-21st century phenomenon. Tell the great theological giants of the 16th century - Luther, St Thomas More, Henry VIII, Cranmer - that a woman could be a bishop, and they would have laughed at you (or, in the case of Henry VIII, cut off your head). Tell Jesus Himself, and He would patiently have sat down and explained the priesthood to you, possibly driving out any demons of which you happened to be possessed.

gender survey

Candidates may attempt not more than three of these.

Ahead of the rest of the world as usual, Brighton school children are now asked to self-identify by gender/sex; so in addition to the perfectly normal male, female, tomboy, transylvanian, tri-gender, hidden agender, and twenty-odd further options, kids will now be able to choose tomcat, moggy, bishop, lord spiritual, and various other combinations. So please be sympathetic to poly-gendered feline bishops.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Pope seeks Catholic forgiveness for persecution

After apologising to the Protestant churches for the persecution they suffered during the Reformation - and most of us didn't even know that he was personally responsible, so it's very good of him to take the blame after all these years - Pope Francis has now made the grand apology that we've all been waiting for.

Pope and Burke

Cardinals queue up to forgive Pope Francis.

"It's time for me to apologise for the persecution for which I myself am responsible, rather than some long-dead people that I never even knew," he said. "Therefore I wish to apologise to traditional Catholics for all the persecution they have suffered in the last three years."

The Pope went on to apologise for the treatment of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, for the bullying of Cardinal Burke, and for frightening people with threats to change Catholic teaching on marriage and the family.

Pope and Morales

"I apologise for not clubbing President Morales over the head with this abominable object."

The Holy Father went on to apologise for all the insults he had come out with on a daily basis, including the notorious "self-absorbed Promethean neo-Pelagian" epithet. He was also very sorry for his ferocious outburst against the Curia in Rome, when he accused them of suffering from "spiritual Alzheimer's".

"Such rudeness is inexcusable," he admitted. "As Pope I am supposed to preach love and mercy, but sometimes I simply can't manage it. But you know how irritating Catholics can be - just because Jesus taught something, and it's been agreed by the Church for two thousand years, they tell me it has some sort of official validity, and so I can't change it. You wouldn't find the Protestants making that sort of mistake!"

Pope and painting

"And I'm sorry I left handprints all over your painting."

Monday, 25 January 2016

Pope Francis to visit Oxford to celebrate atheism

October 2nd 2016 is the 10th anniversary of the publication of Richard Dawkins's learned theological tome The God Delusion, and, in a spirit of ecumenism, humility and mercy, Pope Francis has agreed to visit Oxford to engage in joint celebrations with the Dawkinsite ecclesial community.

Balliol College Oxford

Balliol College Oxford, where Dawkins first nailed his thesis to the chapel door.

Oxford is of course a sacred place to the Dawkinsites - for it was in 1967 that Richard Dawkins nailed his thesis Selective pecking in the domestic chick to the door of Balliol College Chapel (he was later told to remove it and hand it in to the Examination Schools like everyone else).

The "second reformation" started in 2006, with the publication of The God Delusion, and it is this - rather than Dawkins's breakthroughs in chick lit - that will give rise to the papal celebrations.

Dawkins and beads

Dawkins conclusively proves that Rosary beads "don't work."

"...a vindictive bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, a misogynistic, homophobic racist, an infanticidal, genocidal, phillicidal*, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." These are the words of Professor Dawkins, referring to Almighty God, but Pope Francis sees them as a useful contribution to inter-faith dialogue. Likewise the Catholic Church's official view on Dawkins as "... a demented, ignorant, illogical, egotistical, bad-tempered, vain, arrogant, raving, ludicrous, fish-faced thug" is due to be interpreted in a more charitable and merciful way than hitherto.

*Not a real word, Richard.

The verdict of history will probably be that Dawkins is less of a threat to the Catholic Church than Martin Luther was - because he obviously hasn't a clue about religion - so it should be much easier for Pope Francis to find common ground with him. Thus, there will be an ecumenical Catholic-Dawkinsite service in New College, Oxford, the institution that currently puts up with Professor Dawkins, with Dawkinisites being invited to take Communion. Representatives of other religions will also attend.

Dawkins and rabbit

Owing to a typing error, an invitation to the Chief Rabbi was sent to the wrong address.

P.S. Richard Dawkins has described Christianity as a bulwark against something worse (perhaps Islam, the religion that indirectly deprived him of a much-loved pot of honey). It is good to know that he doesn't always talk complete bulwarks.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Year of Mercy - your questions answered

Well, the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is going swimmingly, but some people have sent us questions about it, so Uncle Eccles will see what he can do.

Year of Mercy logo

The logo by Marko Rupnik S.J., aged 7.

Today I accidentally went OUT through the Door of Mercy, rather than IN. Since then I have been feeling particularly merciless. Should I be worried?

It is permitted to leave church by the Door of Mercy, but to avoid any ill-effects you should reverse out, trying not to collide with anyone who may be coming in. Still, do take the opportunity to go IN again through the door, as soon as possible.

How many times do I have to go in through the Door of Mercy to get a badge?

You can be shown mercy even unto seventy-times-seven times. Make sure that your card is stamped by someone in authority.

I enjoyed Pope Benedict's Year of Faith, and now I am enjoying the Year of Mercy. What shall we see next?

It is unlikely that this pope will designate any more special years, even if he continues in office for a long time. However (according to the Jesuits) there should be many other cardinal virtues, so that we may see a Year of Hospitality, a Year of Humility, or a Year of Vigilance.

Dolan eating

Pope-to-be Dolan enjoys the Year of Hospitality.

I want to use the logo as the basis of a cartoon strip Mercy Man about a skiing instructor with two heads. Would that be OK?

No, the logo is protected by copyright, and can only be used in spiritually nourishing contexts, such as this blog.

I have heard the Year of Mercy chant by Paul Inwood with amazement. Will he be writing any more music?

I'm afraid so. We did try to stop him, by sending in a rogue piano tuner to retune all his keys to the wrong notes. However, he never even noticed. What can one do?

Inwood playing the piano

"I'm playing all the right notes - but not necessarily in the right order."

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Bearding the Muslim in his lair

The suggestion by Richard Chartres, Anglican bishop of London, that growing beards can help vicars reach out to Muslims has been eagerly taken up by clerics everywhere. Male and female, vicars have stopped shaving, or, where necessary, rushed off to joke shops to buy Muslim-friendly false beards.

crazy beard

Richard Chartres is not shaved, only Eccles is shaved.

Curiously, this ties in with the experience of St Wilgefortis, a medieval noblewoman who managed to avoid an unwanted marriage by growing a beard. History does not record whether she later managed to reach out to Muslims.

St Wilgefortis

Lovely Wilgefortis.

For us, it is not clear what happens when a vicar "reaches out" to a Muslim. Does the Muslim think "Hmm, Christians are just like us. Time to stop reading the Koran and study Giles Fraser's hard-hitting How to be a Christian without believing very much"? Yes, that must be it. Ayatollah El-Vees at the Guitar Mosque will see congregations dropping as Father Trendy packs the Muslims into his 10 a.m. "Clowns and hoverboards" Mass.

Kate Bottley, maybe

The Rev. Kate Bottley, the "dancing vicar", gets evangelising.

Well, we are all for convertng the Muslims, as it's pretty clear that they've got things wrong from beginning to end. Now is surely the time for Pope Francis to grow a beard - our extensive researches (clicking on Wikipedia) have revealed that the last bearded pope was Innocent XII, who died in 1700, and even his beard wasn't enough to reach out to many Muslims.

Pope Innocent XII

Pope Innocent XII. Not exactly a Rowan Williams, or even a Brian Blessed.

Over to you, Holy Father!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Pope introduces hair-washing rite for women

Pope Francis has shocked traditionalists with this week's twenth-ninth change to Catholic teaching and practice - introducing the rite of hair-washing for women on Holy Thursday.

pope washing hair

"Hmm... those look like nits to me." The Pope washes a man's hair.

First reports suggested that the change would involve the washing of women's feet, although many women find this offensive, not least the implication that their feet are anything but clean and fragrant. However, the original letter signed by Cardinal Sarah (who, paradoxically, is not a woman, as far as we know) was in error: in fact this year, priests will be expected to offer a permanent wave to devout Catholic women.

hair wash for woman

The Vatican-approved rite is demonstrated at the Rosica hair salon.

There is some debate about the scriptural authority for head-washing (foot-washing was traditionally regarded as being for men only). Proverbs 25:22 does insist, "Thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee," but this is not a formal recommendation, as the next verse says "Don't try this at home, folks!"

More relevant is Jeremiah 9:1, "Who will give water to my head, and a fountain of tears to my eyes?" which is pretty conclusive, and seems also to be warning against getting shampoo into the eyes of the faithful.

too much foam

A possible side-effect of ritual hair-washing. No need for a mantilla!

Advice to priests reading this blog: VATICO clerical suppliesTM are offering a new product "Wash, pray'n' go", which is recommended for use in the Novus Ordo hair-washing rite. Buy now while stocks last!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Government plans to regulate Sunday schools

The Department of Education is expanding its plans to register and inspect Sunday schools using OFCHURCH, the government office that already ensures that church services preach inclusivity, equality, diversity, British values, etc. and as little religion as possible. From now on, there will be a national curriculum, and all Sunday school teaching will be strictly controlled.

Noah's ark picture

This is allowed, as it celebrates biodiversity and warns against climate change.

All Bible stories, games, and children's drawing and colouring will be strictly monitored, and if a church fails to comply with government guidelines, then it can be closed down without warning. The above picture is permitted, but those containing a serious religious message will be forbidden.

pope picture

This picture is banned under the "prevention of terrorism" legislation of 1558.

However, it is not just Sunday schools that are under threat. Scouts, guides and cubs, for example, are another target. "DYB DYB DYB?" What kind of message is that for modern Britain, especially as "Do your best" is an exclusive and elitist mantra, discriminating against those who have chosen a slothful lifestyle! OFCHURCH recommends "DWYL DWYL DWYL" ("Do whatever you like"), as something that cannot be offensive to anyone.

Rainbows logo

Rainbow groups (ages 5 to 7) are still encouraged. Can you guess why?

It is expected that the Department of Education will soon be undertaking a complete overhaul of churches' liturgy, to remove all controversial aspects. For the time being, Latin masses will be exempt, as nobody in the civil service knows what they mean, and anyway, if we are going to preach diversity by supporting the African and Asian communities, we must also respect the rights of those such as Fr John Hunwicke whose first language is Latin. However, don't rely on this continuing.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

School report on Jorge Bergoglio

We have been sent a school report for a boy called Jorge Bergoglio who attended St Evita's Academy, Buenos Aires, in around 1947. We don't know what happened to Jorge (at that time he said he wanted to become a butcher), but the report may still be of interest to some readers.

Young Jorge.

Science. This seems to be Jorge's strongest subject. He is very fond of letting off explosions and startling his friends - so much so, that he is thinking of studying chemistry when he grows up. He is definitely one for experimenting, and it is hard to make him obey instructions. Indeed, I put him in detention after he accused me of "divination" and "idolatory" for insisting that he make gunpowder according to the book.
Che Guevara, Science Teacher.

Religion. Jorge is a studious boy, who has read the whole Bible, although he sometimes gets confused between Christian teaching and the works of Karl Marx. He tells me that he is inspired with the Spirit of Vatican I, and so everything needs changing - it doesn't matter how, just so long as it changes. Jorge's friends do get rather annoyed when he accuses them of being creed-reciting, parrot Christians. As a joke I suggested that he should become a priest. How we laughed! In fact, he's more likely to end up as a Lutheran pastor.
Fr Ray Bentos, Religious Studies teacher.

"God bless Mummy, and keep her from neo-Pelagianism."

Latin. Very weak. He seems to think that it is the same as Italian. Must try harder.
Jorge Luis Borges, Latin teacher.

Sport. Jorge is a very strong boy, and when he grows up he could easily make his living as a bouncer at a club. He must learn to curb his natural aggression - for example he punched another boy on the nose for insulting his mother.
Mara Dona, Sports teacher.

Jorge in the gym.

Headmaster's assessment. Jorge is an interesting child. He has some good friends (he was very kind to our exchange student Walter Kasper, and it was certainly not his fault that Walter burnt down the school library). Still, at the same time, Jorge does tend to irritate people by perpetually criticising and insulting them. He seems to think he is infallible, but he needs to realise that this has its limitations. His teachers agree that Jorge always has a lot to say, although he must learn to write comprehensibly. Asking old Scalfari the odd-job man to type out his essay for him was a blunder that had the whole school laughing!
Leopoldo Galtieri, Headmaster.