This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Personality test for holy orders

These days, people applying for jobs are often asked to fill in an online personality test, or situational judgement test. Just in case any of my readers is thinking of applying to become a priest, bishop, cardinal, or whatever, here is a selection of the sort of questions you may be asked to answer.

1. You are a young woman vicar in the Anglican church, hoping for a successful career. You have seen how Kate Bottley has managed to draw attention to herself by self-centred fooling around in the House of God. Do you:
(a) Go one step further, and become the first stripping vicar, after which media fame and fortune will await you?
(b) Learn to play the saxophone, so that you will quickly be promoted to the executive position of bishop under sax-discrimination legislation?
(c) Pray "God help us"?

Kate Bottley

Ite, Missa est!

2. You are a member of the Magic Circle of English and Welsh bishops, and currently a lowly Blessed Prestidigitator, but hoping to be promoted to the inner ring of Sacred Conjurers. Unfortunately, one of your deacons has set up a blog "Safeguard the Bishop of Rome" in which he lists many threats to orthodox Catholic doctrine (ACTA, The Tablet,... all the usual suspects). The Grandmaster of the Magic Circle is leaning on you to do something. Do you:
(a) Tell the deacon that he will spend the rest of his life in a brief period of voluntary prayer and contemplation if he doesn't want to end up locked in a garden shed?
(b) Set up your own rival blog in which you tell of all the exciting things bishops do, such as eating cake with nuns?
(c) Tell the Grandmaster to mind his own business, and take the plank out of his own diocese before trying to remove the speck from yours?

3. You are a fairly inexperienced pope, who is very popular with atheists but totally distrusted by Catholics. Do you:
(a) Pick an easy target such as the Curia, and insult them in fifteen exciting new ways?
(b) Promise to write an encyclical on a topic almost totally unrelated to the Catholic faith, e.g. climate change, pizza toppings, or which football club Catholics should support?
(c) Look around for anyone who may be more popular than yourself (Burke, Müller, Pell, ...), and appoint them to an "invisible" position looking after the Knights of Cyprus, the Bishops of Crete, or the Rooks of Gibraltar.
(d) Proclaim some new and absurd piece of doctrine infallibly, e.g. "From now on, everyone is saved"?

Gore and Francis

"My usual fee for an audience is $100,000, your popeship."

4. You are a young priest whose well-meaning but totally clueless aunt has given you a gift subscription to the Tablet. When the first copy drops through your letter-box, do you:
(a) Phone your bishop and ask if he will come round and exorcise it?
(b) Read it from cover to cover, and comment "My, that Tony Flannery's a smart young chap, isn't he? If only he were on our side"?
(c) Thank your aunt kindly and wonder whether it would be any good for lining the parrot's cage?

5. You are an embittered old Swiss Catholic priest and theologian. Although you are not allowed to teach Catholic theology, you have written 348 books, with titles such as "My struggle for freedom" and "Why I am still a Christian". But you are still not regarded as a Great Prophet. Do you:
(a) Fill your garden with more statues of yourself?
(b) Phone up Tina Beattie and ask her if she can get you a job at Roehampton?
(c) Buy yourself a New Testament, to find out exactly what Jesus really said.

zombie priest

And finally... a horror story.

6. You have been appointed priest at a parish that has a regular Tridentine Mass, attracting worshippers from other parishes. The worshippers have been led to believe that things will carry on as normal. Do you:
(a) Carry on as usual, in an attempt to become as well-respected as your distinguished predecessor?
(b) Close down the Latin Masses, for that is surely the will of God, as expressed in the Spirit of Vatican II?
(c) Like (b), only you get in some good ranting at the butcher, the baker and the candlestick-maker?

Answers: there are no right answers. But you didn't get the job.


  1. Opportunities always exist for people with failed vocations. If you are an ex-Franciscan Liberation Theologian in Latin America, you could always re-brand your failed Marxist politico-economic nonsense as Green politico-economic nonsense, and get the ear of the Pope who is preparing a new encyclical on disappearing polar bears.

  2. You could always write about Pelagianism, Arianism,Fairy Rings and the like as a column for The Catholic Times.