Berscrooglio knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Berscrooglio and Martini were partners for I don't know how many years...
Cardinal Berscrooglio, living humbly.
(Get on with it, will you, Eccles, nobody wants to read an entire novella. When do the ghosts appear?)
All right then. Berscrooglio looked out of the window at the jolly Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, as they processed towards St Traddy's Church in order to celebrate a Mass in the Extraordinary Form. "Bah! Humbug! Self-absorbed Promethean Neo-Pelagians" he sneered, and retired to bed.
Berscrooglio lay, half-awake, until the clock had struck midnight; then the curtains were drawn aside; and then, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, Berscrooglio found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them.
"I am the Ghost of Synod Past," exclaimed the spirit, "also known as Vatican II. Come and see what we did!" The ghost took Berscrooglio back to the 1960s, to a vast meeting of the Great and Good. And Basil Loftus. There the Wise Fathers of the Catholic Church decided to follow the Spirit of the 60s, and encourage the faithful to become hippies. Well, actually they didn't, but somehow sex, drugs and rock-and-roll crept into the spiritual life of the Church soon afterwards.
"I, the Ghost of Vatican II, took most of the credit for this," explained the spectre. Every night in the Vatican there was a rumbling sound, as of an earthquake. It was an army of dead popes, all turning in their graves.
The Ghost of Synod Past.
Moving on quickly, now: the next night Berscrooglio was visited by the Spirit of Synod Present (or at least, only just past), which manifested itself as a smiling man with a fanatical expression on his face. "I am Kasper, the Spirit of Synod Present," said the grinning spectre. "I have come to change the church's teaching on the family; that of course includes homosexuality, divorce and adultery, which are jolly good things that can only make the family stronger. O Berscrooglio! Beware Burke! Send him to Africa, we don't take any notice of people down there. Or even as far as Malta will do."
The Ghost of Synod Present.
Berscrooglio woke at dawn with a shudder, but he knew that his torments would continue. Sure enough, when midnight arrived, a third horrific phantom slowly, gravely, silently, approached him. When it came near him, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. "Am I in the presence of the Ghost of Synod Still To Come?" he asked. "Strange Spirit, who art thou? Cormac? Vin? Tiny Tim Radcliffe? Surely not Catherine Pepinster or Tina Beattie?"
"I am all these, and none," said the Spectre. "My name is Legion, for we are Many. See how the Church fades away, as we make it conform with the world!"
The ghost of Synod Still To Come.
"Horrible! Horrible!" said Berscrooglio. "After all, Uncle Benedict was right - it is time for us to become religious again! It is not too late for me to repent - away with my giant Pinocchio puppets, my copy of 'Tango-for-Dummies', even my CD of 'Paul Inwood's Greatest Bath-Time Gurgles'!" Hurriedly dressing, he made his way through the early morning mist to the livestock market, where he bought the largest tiger you ever saw, and left it at Cardinal Kasper's door as a Christmas present.
A present for Cardinal Kasper.
"God bless us, every one!" said Berscrooglio. "Even Eccles!"