This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Defending an unpopular pope

Most of my readers have never been pope, and probably only one or two ever will be, so you don't realise how difficult the job of a pope is. You probably think that it just involves sitting around in Rome eating pasta, going to Mass, and occasionally saying something about Catholic doctrine. And the latter ought to be easy enough, as just about every issue under the sun has been discussed by previous popes, so you don't have to say anything original, although you can of course rephrase things in your own words. On no account try to change any of the doctrine - only a complete fool would do that, eh?

Pope John XXII

A pope.

However, popes do occasionally get accused of heresy. Let's look at the case of Pope John XXII, who has been in the news a lot lately, as he was accused of heresy. It all began when an old warlock called Kasperus Insanus persuaded him to hold a General Synod on the subject of Death.

The burning question of the early 14th century was whether those who died in the faith saw the presence of God before the Last Judgement. The traddies said "yes, of course", and the liberals "no". After a heated synod, the pope produced an Apostolic Exhortation A Morte Laetitia ("Happiness from Death"), which ignored the decisions of the synod and expressed his own view ("no") although it was subtly buried in a footnote that could be interpreted in several different ways.

Cardinal Farrell (blind)

Cardinal Caffara said that only a blind person could fail to find A Morte Laetitia confusing.

Of course, there were cardinals who did not like the idea that Church doctrine was being fudged, so they issued some dubia - questions to the pope along the lines of "Did you really mean to say that?" - "Would you like to try again with that one?" - and "Are you out of your mind?"

For many years the pope refused to answer these questions, responding only in insults and threats. He had many allies, for, on realising that the wise and good had refused to come to his A Morte Laetitia party, he followed the advice of Matthew 22, and went out into the streets and invited the weak, the feeble-minded and the crazy, instead. And he made them all cardinals.

Charles Scicluna

Archbishop Charles Scicluna jumps into the debate.

And some particularly foolish bishops in Malta, hoping that they too might become cardinals, rushed to teach the new doctrine; indeed they went further and said that everyone who felt at peace with God was saved - no matter what sins they had committed or intended to commit in future.

In addition, the pope relied on his servants Spadaro the Wormtongue, Austen the Catholic Vicious, and Rosica the Blockhead to insult those who questioned his heresy, to accuse them of dissent, and of course to fawn over him and lick his boots. However, the war was not one-sided. Learned scribes with Latin names such as Mundabor, Rorate Caeli, and Vox Cantoris waded into the attack. They were joined by an army of canon lawyers and even ordinary Catholics who asked "Well? When do we get to see the presence of God?"

Of course, in the end, the pope backed down and admitted that he was wrong on the issue of admission of the saved to the Divine Presence.

They all lived happily ever after

And so...

However, I still have to tell you why we should have warm feelings towards Pope John XXII. All right, he was arrogant, bad-tempered, fond of insulting the Curia, priests, deacons, parish secretaries, and even ordinary faithful Catholics. His discussion of coprophagy would make a nun blush. Still, he is said to have written the prayer Anima Christi, which is said on many occasions, and can even be used as a hymn if you get fed up with "Bind us together" and "Our God reigns" and want something intelligent instead. It begins:

Soul of my Saviour sanctify my breast, 
Body of Christ, be thou my saving guest, 
Blood of my Saviour, bathe me in thy tide, 
Wash me with waters gushing from thy side.
So three cheers for the pope!


  1. "Rosica the Blockhead" made me LOL.

  2. Funny there wasn't another Pope John for another 600 years or so.

    1. I doubt there will ever be a Francis II, unless Kasper gets elected.

  3. Next pope: Kasper the first.



  4. Morte laetitia - he knew half us would be dead of starvation by the 1980s because of overpopulation!

    Ordinary Catholic

  5. "Most of my readers have never been pope . . ."

    Speak for yourself, O Saved One !!!

  6. Surely someone can only be at peace with God on immediately leaving the confessional or in heaven? Even reciting the confiteor immediately before holy Communion would not help because of the awkward bits: "I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word and deed" and "through my fault, through my most grievous fault." So it would help if the Maltese bishops could just give us a little clue. Sounds like a cue for a dubia.

  7. Malta v Poland, there's only one way to sort this out - fight! Let's get these people in the ring. Francis could act as trainer in the progressive/modernist/heretic corner and Cardinal Burke could do the honours in the Catholic corner. I would pay good money to watch along with many others, I'm sure. St.Peter's square can hold a large crowd. Imagine what the TV rights would go for. Francis only has to announce that 'might is right' magisterially and all our decisions can be made 'mano a mano' with enormous profits to boot. It's a win/win folks. I commend this to the house.

    1. Well, if not Lepanto then:

  8. Lepanto, This sounds so good! I'd buy a front row seat!!

  9. I'm a woman so I have a lot better shot at being pope right now than the rest of you. I've already decided my first encyclical is going to be Nomorum Novus Ordo.

    1. Oh dear....

      I fear a battle between you and Anti....

  10. I'm a convert. Lately I wonder what for.

  11. Unpopular ? Say it ain't so !
    I struggle with the fasting before Mass, the temptation being the worst upon entering the church: inhaling the aroma of fresh brewed coffee and knowing that there are fresh doughnuts awaiting. I'm just not capable of paying attention on an empty stomach.
    But ! to become at peace with God (at least from my end of the stick) now I can chug, glug, and chomp to smite the rumbles that disrupt my participation (and that of my neighbors) in the Mass.
    ...or maybe I'll go with a full breakfast (monks' bean's coffee, nuns' jams) and not give scandal.
    I feel so,.... accompanied, accommodated !

    One cheer more !
    (Or has this Captain run St. Peter's barque ashore ?)

    Parting thoughts:

    - "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."

    - The last audience

    When I survey the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.

    Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
    All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.

    See from His head, His hands, His feet,
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
    Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

    Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all.

    "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."