This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The 2012 Tabloid Lecture

A longer and funnier version of the lecture appears here.

Catherine Popehater, Editor of the Tabloid comic (motto Ecclesia Contra Papam), was very pleased that Kaiser Wilhelm II agreed to give the 2012 Tabloid lecture. Last year, by mistake, we invited Vincent Nichols, who said that, on balance, he thought that poisoning the Pope was not the only possible answer to the problems facing the Catholic Church. This year, we have managed to find someone less conservative.

Robert Blair Kaiser

Robert Blair Kaiser.

These days, both wings of the Church are saying that the Second Vatican Council was a failure. I do not believe that this is true. For one thing, it allowed an obscure talentless journalist such as myself to make a career out of the Catholic Church's problems, just because I am a fluent Latin speaker.

I remember meeting Pope John XXIII just before the Council opened. "Hic, haec hoc!" I said to him, challengingly, and followed this up with "Mensa, mensa, mensam, mensae, mensae, mensa!" The Pope looked at me in a puzzled way, crossed himself, and moved on: it was at that moment that I knew I had influenced the Church in a way that would go down in history.

Pope John XXIII

John XXIII - he had no answer to my arguments.

His predecessors, Pius XI and Pius XII, had campaigned against Evil. As an historian, Papa Roncalli knew what a risky business this could be. "No more moralizing," he said. I am sure he didn't want the Council to take sides in the so-called battle between God and the Devil.

As the Council opened, I sought out America's most famous Catholic preacher, Bishop Fulton Sheen. I expected him to be sleeping in a cardboard box under a railway bridge, but when I saw that he was staying in a hotel, I instantly knew that he was a reactionary. "This Council will be inspired by the Holy Spirit," he said.

"Never heard of Him," I retorted. "Can you tell me how to interview Him?"

Bishop Sheen merely smiled sadly, and I knew that we would be in danger, if the Holy Spirit - an unelected grandee - tried to interfere in the Council's decisions.

Fulton Sheen

Fulton Sheen - did he wear gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints?

Well, you expect to see dinosaurs like Sheen when bishops are appointed by the Vatican hierarchy, instead of being democratically elected like police chiefs, in a free ballot in which atheists may also participate!

In the end, unlike the previous twenty Councils, in which some mythical person called "God" had played a key role, Vatican II was inspired directly by the 1960s ethos. The inspirational figures of the 1960s - people like Ronald Biggs, Jimmy Savile and Christine Keeler - were all to be found outside the Church oligarchy.

Christine Keeler

Christine Keeler, in prayer.

The Council changed the way we thought about God and the World. Indeed, Pope John and his Council made preliminary moves that helped end the Cold War - and, only 25 years later, Communism collapsed. (I make this comment since I am not pretending that the effects of the Council were always beneficial.)


Marxists reflect on the threat posed by the Council.

Before the Council, Mass had to be celebrated by a priest. Afterwards, nobody went to Mass anyway, so it didn't matter.

Before the Council, women were forbidden to attend Mass. Afterwards, they were freed from their bonds and allowed to participate fully in the life of the Church. The shock of this liberation drove some women insane with joy, and special caring arrangements had to be made: for example, Patient C was appointed editor of a Catholic comic, while Patient T was sent to sheltered accommodation in Roehampton.

Roehampton care home

Roehampton - a place where crazy people are respected.

Before the Council, Catholics were forced to read the Bible. Afterwards, they could read my best-selling books The Selfish Pope and The Pope Delusion.

Before the Council, we were sin-obsessed. Nowadays, Good and Evil are recognised as lifestyle choices, and nobody in the Church dares to say that one is better than the other. Before the Council, people spoke of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. Nowadays, we know that nobody will judge us, not even God.


Do we really see God like this, as a judge?

What we modernizing Catholics really hated was the Council of Trent (1545-1563). When announcing Vatican II, Pope John XXIII stated that the precepts of the Council of Trent continue to the modern day, but of course he wasn't serious. What could a bunch of medieval people know about sex and drugs, and rock and roll?

Council of Trent

The Council of Trent. We hates it, we hates it, we hates it.

When Jesus addressed the multitudes on that hillside overlooking the sea of Galilee, he didn't tell them how to behave. He told them how to have fun. Jesus could have learned a lot from Vatican II - the Council told us what he should really have said. Which is as it should be.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. John Paul II demanded that the Church be a ‘sign of contradiction’ in the World but it risks becoming, instead, an embodiment of its confusion and incongruity. Thus Benedict rightly drew our elites’ attention at Westminster to the obscenity of the “too big to fail” treatment reserved for the banks. Yet within two years he is now asking us to celebrate 50th anniversary of the most verbose, self-indulgent and idiotic Church gathering in centuries for no better reason than it too has become “too big to fail”. Perhaps it’s a master plan to celebrate the Council as part of a quid pro quo whereby by more concessions are granted to tradition.

    1. I suppose you could forgive the Fathers of the council for their verbosity, considering how the naughty curia had kept them in silence for far too long. I guess those Bishops knew they had a lot to say but weren't quite sure what they were . Perhaps they didn't want to keep repeating themselvel over and over again: anathema sit, anathema sit, anathema sit....
      And anyhow the council wasn't just big it was massive. As for the fresh air: 'i'm luvin' it'.

  3. V II is, in fact, "too big to fail" for the V II hierarchy...



  4. I love the kind of churnalism that starts with 'Let me tell you all about me'. Followed by: 'Pope John thought I was special and told me all his secrets.'

    There are some wondrous (as in 'what the blazes?') comments under the Tablet piece as well - 'I saw a film once and that makes me an expert' is my especial favourite. Closely followed by : 'I heard some gossip once'.

    Anyway, sorry to say, Eccles, although this is a tour de force, even you cannot outdo the genius of the Tablet writers and readers.

    For your next post, I expect the interview with the Holy Sprit of which Mr Kaiser was so cruelly cheated.

    1. Yes the Tablet is satire defying but we must continue to encourage the editor!

  5. I know the tablet can be a little ideological at times (i'm not particularly intereseted in the plight of lesbians in venezuela for example), but there is actually some interesting stuff within its pages. The Cstholic Herald can be equally ideoligical as far as I can tell but much more parochial.

  6. I'm really looking forward to the Tablet's next article supporting the French bishops' proposal to canonise seven new "gay marriage" "laws" !!!

  7. I often hear that “The Tablet” is taken because of the review section. Reading the reviews section has always struck me as a lazy reason to purchase any organ. People seem incapable of thinking for themselves but deliver the thoughts of others by proxy. I attended one function where an Oxford graduate (a convert) criticized William Oddie and vulgarly quoted from a George Orwell tome placed on his lap which he had brought for the very purpose. I thought he made a complete fool of himself.