This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Monday, 5 January 2015

What to say if you meet a priest, bishop, pope, etc.

There are many occasions on which you may suddenly encounter a person in holy orders: coming out of church is an obvious one, but you may also meet a cleric in the supermarket, the betting shop, or even leaving the public toilets. There is an I-Spy scoring system, for such encounters: the Catholic version of the game gives you 1 point for a deacon, 2 for a priest, 4 for a monsignor, 10 for a bishop, 20 for an archbishop, 50 for a cardinal, and 100 for a pope. Double points if you can name him.

Apologies to Anglicans reading this: I don't know how many canons make an archdeacon, or whether a rural dean is worth more than either. Does anyone?

Pope and Guido Marini

Mgr Guido Marini and an unidentified pope. 108 points.

Often, you will encounter your lucky cleric on leaving church, just after hearing him preach a sermon. Commenting on the homily is one way to break the ice. If you meet the reverend gentleman in less salubrious circumstances, it may be better to avert your eyes, and pretend you did not see him.

Anyway, here are few gambits that we have tried, with some success.


1. Good sermon, Deacon. I particularly liked the way you refuted the arguments of Fr Timothy Radcliffe. What a numpty, eh?

2. Good morning, Deacon. I'm so glad to hear that the geraniums in your potting-shed are flourishing.

deacon in shed

Reading St Paul's epistle to the Geraniums.


1. Father, your sermon made me wonder about adiophora. Would you say that 1 Corinthians 8 was helpful on this issue?

2. Father, I keep confusing good and evil. I couldn't tell from your sermon, but maybe you know. Which side are we on?


1. My Lord, how refreshing to hear the Donatist heresy explained by someone who actually knows what it was.

2. Good to see you, Bishop: you're not nearly as overweight as the man in the Spectator was claiming. Pity about the sermon.


Dolan wins pie-eating competition

Congratulations on your first prize in the pie-eating competition!

1. Good day, your Eminence. How are we poor laymen to survive if the Church is a ship without a rudder?

2. Good morning, your ex-Eminence. Who are you going to push into the Chair of St Peter next time round?

Cardinal Kasper

Don't worry, your Eminence, those men in white coats are your friends. Just get into the van.


1. How good of you to drop in to St Tharg's, Holy Father Emeritus. Of course we're not all familiar with the major German philosophers, but your homily sounded very smart.

2. Hell's Teeth, Holy Father, how are we supposed to keep smiling after what you just called us?


  1. A good post Eccles, yet this does not entirely equip us for an encounter with the ex-minister general of a major Franciscan religious order which went into bankruptcy during his watch and has now woefully been appointed to oversee all religious institutes.

    1. Brother, how I admire your efforts in bringing your order into complete poverty, in line with the charism of your founder St Francis.

    2. How on earth did you get promoted into a position where you can visit spiritual disaster on the Franciscans of the Immaculate, who at least managed to keep their meagre finances in order?

    1. Speaking of Franciscans, what does one say to a Cardinal (O'Malley) who has his baptism "reaffirmed" by a Methodist minister?

  2. What about when they clearly do not want to be recognised as a holy minister ordained by God, as in when they are in undercover non-clerical dress? Avert the eyes??

    1. Ask them whether they are enjoying being on holiday.

    2. Happy New a Year, Mr Bellord! A priest or bishop is never on holiday from being a priest or bishop - it is a holy ordination of the soul to minister to the people. A priest ought always be recognisable as a priest, on holiday or otherwise - souls may need the holy hands of a priest at any time. Salvation of souls requires priests, sometimes very urgently.

  3. When travelling on the London Eye and glancing around you see a bishop +1 in civvies, face downwards on the floor of the capsule opposite do you say:

    a) I expect you won't have to make any sins up net time you go to confession
    b)See you next year in the beer tent at the jamboree

    c) Screencapped on all 64 of my mobile devices, and savd to a memory stick kept in the third seedling tray on the left, against the next occasion I am in hot water over my online activities

  4. Urgent query:

    How many points for an archiblogopoios?

  5. If I met a priest today I'd be really surprised since there aren't many left. If I met a bishop I probably wouldn't recognise him in his secular attire, while, if I met the pope he'd have to be frank with me.

  6. How many points does one receive for inadvertently reading a deacon's comments?