This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 17 April 2016

How to be a Good Pope 3

We continue our helpful guide for the use of readers of this blog who may find themselves sitting in the Chair of St Peter: however, this is probably not more than two or three of you, and not at the same time.

In Part 1 and Part 2 we told the story so far:

Three years ago you were elected Pope, and decided to take a papal name that had never been used before. Accordingly, you became the first Pope Bosco, named after your favourite saint.

St John Bosco

A saved person.

Last year, you announced an Extraordinary Year of Hospitality (this being one of the Jesuit Works of Mercy), and - under pressure from some of your more liberal cardinals - a Synod on False Witness, to help decide whether compulsive liars should be allowed to take communion. The problem of course is that many politicians, lawyers, journalists and Jesuits - who are paid to tell lies - feel excluded from the Catholic Church. The Synod was a great success, and six months later only three of the bishops who took part are still in intensive care.

Victorian hospital

The Baldisseri Ward for synod-related injuries.

So now you have decided to write an Apostolic Exhortation to summarise teaching on the subject. Let's give it a catchy title, so that search engines will find it when people are looking for online porn: Appassionata Erotica? Mulier Voluptua? I'm sure that Up Pompeii! and the Carry on films will give you some ideas here.

Now, think about the length: St John's Gospel is about 15K words, but of course nobody is going to read St John once your own Rara et Curiosa hits the airport bookstalls. I suggest you go for about 60K words, which is the length of the longest Agatha Christie whodunnits. This comparison is well chosen, as your own work will also be a mystery, and many bits of the plot will remain unresolved.

Agatha Christie story

Surely, "Why didn't they ask Heaven?"?

Now writing 60K words may seem like a tall order, but you can quote extensively from papal encyclicals, Vatican II documents, and even perhaps the Bible. There is no need to be concise, to stick to the point, or even to have any particular ideas in your head when you compose a particular section - hey, the Holy Spirit will direct your fingers! Or if not the Holy Spirit, then the Spirit of Vatican II. Go for ambiguity and confusion, so that nobody actually knows what you're trying to say. That way, you are not likely to contradict any established Catholic teaching, and, if a future Pope comes along who actually wants to give helpful advice to Catholics, he won't end up having to condemn you as a heretic.

Dolan and the girls

A future pope, with some extraordinary ministers of Communion.

When you go out, leave your computer switched on so that passers-by with nothing better to do (the cleaner, Cardinal Kasper, Thomas Rosica, etc.) can add bits to the exhortation if they feel like it. Of course there is a down-side to this, because people may smuggle in footnotes that seem to suggest a complete rewriting of Catholicism. Still, if you are asked about them - say on an aeroplane trip - you can always say you don't remember, and you certainly weren't aware of any of the 200 blogs and newspaper articles so far written on the subject!

If things are going badly, it may be worth causing a distraction. We recommend either:

(a) Take an aeroplane trip. Pretend you are going to reach out to Lesbians, but instead come back with a few Muslim families. Refugees make good cooks, cleaners and cardinals - well, better than some of the ones you've got at present!

Bernie Sanders

Warning! Do not approach this man - he may strangle you!

(b) Get involved in politics! Choose a suitably left-wing and anti-Catholic politician, and have him round for tea and Eccles cakes. If anyone says that you are meddling in politics, then show a sensitivity for mental health issues by suggesting they look for a psychiatrist. This is a much more explicit insult than the usual "airport gnostics, leprous neo-Pelagians, existential parrot-Christians, Renaissance functionaries and pepper-faced tourists", which is how you normally describe your flock, but it will make up for all the vagueness and imprecision in your encyclical Rumpus Pumpus.

Good luck!


  1. (c) Pop into the local mosque, synagogue or temple to reassure the faithful therein that they are all going to Heaven, while Catholics have no chance at all until they welcome all false religionists as their brothers. (isn't that sexist?) Or wash their feet.

  2. I just found this site and laughed so hard I think I've popped or sprained something I can't pronounce. Part 2 was supernaturally inspired..."you lookin' for trouble, Jimmy?" had me crying on the floor for 10 minutes. Haven't laughed this hard for...well, just over 3 years now. MUCH needed; MUCH appreciated.....thank you!

  3. I devoutly hope that Pope Bosco recognises your signal contributions by making you a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, or at least a knight grand commander of his Order of the White Rabbit.