This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Monday, 14 October 2019

Giving advice to St John Henry Newman

A revised version of an old post, to celebrate the canonization of JHN.

As a change from "Bad hymns," we like to invite in some older hymn-writers, to tell them where they went wrong. Today we welcome St John Henry Newman, author of hymns such as Lead, kindly Light, and Praise to the Holiest in the height, which are hardly ever sung in really hip churches these days. Now, why is that?

Newman

St John Henry Newman - where did he go wrong?

E: Welcome, John, and congratulations on your Canonization - I was really rooting for you. Now, your first hymn starts:

Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
Not very snappy, is it? I suppose you never used to play the guitar, did you? Or shake the tambourine?

JHN: That's true, Eccles, I did try to introduce these to the Birmingham Oratory, but the traddies wouldn't have it. So how can I bring my hymn up to date?

E: Well, taking the tune of Walk in the Light, how about rewriting it as:

Lead, lead, Kindly Li-ight,
Lead, lead, Kindly Li-ight,
Lead, lead, Kindly Li-ight,
Lead on, as I'm far from home!

Holmes and Watson

Watson, the night is dark and we are far from home.

JHN: Yes, I think that would work. So Verse 2 could be:

Keep, keep Thou my fee-eet,
Keep, keep Thou my fee-eet,
Keep, keep Thou my fee-eet,
One step's the right thing for me!
E: You're learning quickly, John. This is the sort of hymn that Catholic congregations are singing these days. None of your flowery language!

JHN: Can we do something about Praise to the Holiest in the height, Eccles? It comes from my poem The Dream of Gerontius.

Gerontius

Gerontius, catching up on some sleep.

E: Gerontius? I suppose it's too late to give him a more with-it name? The Dream of Dave, maybe? Well, let's see how it starts:

Praise to the Holiest in the height,
And in the depth be praise;
In all His words most wonderful,
Most sure in all His ways.
E: I think the problem here, John, is that there are at least four different ideas in that verse. And later on you get very involved in sin and redemption, and all that sort of Jesus-stuff, whereas modern congregations should be singing about how happy they are.

JHN: Yes, I think I'm getting the hang of this now. Could I use the tune of "Follow me, follow me?"

When we're up in the heights, or we feel a little blue,
Oh we like to praise our holy holy Friend,
For He sorted us out, yes He did, for me and you,
So we're saved, yes we're saved, and that's the end. 

Chorus: Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, 
praise the holy holy Lord... (ad libitum)

up in the heights

When we're up in the heights, or we feel a little blue...

E: Very good, John. You got through the main points of your hymn much more quickly that time, didn't you?

JHN: Thanks for your wise advice, Eccles. Now I see how real hymn-writers work.

E: Oh, by the way this "Cor ad cor loquitur" motto is a bit rigid. How about "Cor, strike a kindly light"?

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Newman was my kind of Catholic

A guest contribution from Christopher Lambchop of the Tablet.

There is little doubt that celebrity saint John Henry Newman would have been an ardent Remainer. So says Fr Ignatius Harrison of the Birmingham Oratory, and his wise words are backed by Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin, who is still recovering in hospital from the removal of his spine.

Of course we cannot be sure exactly how Newman would have resolved the current crisis. Would he have campaigned for a second referendum? A simple dropping of Article 50? Or perhaps he would have asked for another 20-year extension? We can never be entirely certain, although scholars who have read his writings are sure that he was crying out to be ruled by such giants as Juncker, Verhofstadt, Von der Leyen, and Barnier.

Lambchop and Shari Lewis

Christopher Lambchop with an unknown lady (probably Tina Beattie)

Likewise, we can tell from his Apologia pro Greta sua, that Newman would have supported the Extinction Rebellion's current campaign to shut down the world's cities. It is known that he never flew in an aeroplane, and there are accounts of his gluing himself to hot air balloons in an attempt to bring people closer to God. As he said in 1895 "We have only 12 years in which to save the world," and his words are as true now as they ever were. When we see our heroes engage in interpretive dance moves in order to help our planet survive, we know that John Henry Newman is looking down and wishing he was there.

Vestments worn by St John Henry Newman.

Moving on to Catholic issues, a subject we tend to avoid in the Tablet, we know that Newman would have enjoyed the current Amazonis Laetitia summit. Not just for the opportunity to stick feathers in his hair and worship pagan fertility idols, but also for the new doctrine that it promotes - notably the ordination of women as deacons (sha-women joining the sha-men). A pioneer in every way, Newman records in his writings how he used to confess his sins to the trees in Oxford, and listen to the wisdom of the wisteria.

On the wider scene, Newman was a keen feminist, a promoter of LGBT issues (history records that he never married), and in short, a typical Tablet reader. Modernism was his creed, as we know from his famous letter to Pope Pius IX, which begins "Get with the programme, baby-oh. This infallibility wheeze is a great opportunity for you to rewrite Catholic doctrine."

Pope Pius IX

"Newman made me a modernist."

Yes, Newman was definitely my type of Catholic.

Will this do? Actually, he seems to have been a bit of a old fogey, and rather a stuffed shirt, but we'd better not say that. Chris.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

How to be an atheist pope

Many of the articles on this blog have given advice on "How to be a good pope", but one or two of my readers (i.e., about half of them) have complained that, being atheists, they did not find the advice very useful. Obviously, being female is not a bar to occupying the chair of Peter (or as Father James Martin puts it, the chair of Mary Magdalene), especially since we now need to create female popes in order to please the indigenous tribes of the Amazon (I hope I've got that right). But is atheism a bar?

Pope Joan

The papacy - now open to women and atheists!

Ask any priest, and he will tell you that the job is really quite easy. Most weeks you only work on Sundays, and if you need to preach a homily, then there are plenty of good books from which you can borrow, with titles such as The Reverend Ebenezer Drone's Victorian Sermons on Habakkuk, The Jesuit Book of LGBT-friendly Homilies, and Cardinal Sarah's latest epic, Why don't you all just SHUT UP?*

*Subtitled And that includes you, Francis.

Try not to mention sky fairies and invisible friends, as that's a bit of a give-away that you're not as devout as people thought.

Sartoria per Eccles

The Eccles shop will also provide you with fashionable clothes to wear.

Then, you get to listen to confessions, and that must surely be more entertaining than watching television: once in a while you will get an axe-murderer or a grave-robber, even if most of the time it is "I took the last chocolate from the box" or "I groaned when I read Austen Ivereigh's latest comments."

But do you need to believe? Well, technically not, if you don't mind telling lies. If you don't believe in Hell, or if you think Jesus was not God when He was on Earth, then there is no need to mention it to anyone, as it might affect your chances of promotion (well, it used to, until Vatican II brought us the Age of Aquarius, etc.)

Marx on a tractor

Stealing tractors is all in a day's work for top atheist Cardinal Marx.

Many priests, bishops, and cardinals have realised that they have a job for life, and if they want a career where they can talk to people without being interrupted, then joining the Church is easier than becoming a politician or an actor. No need for elections, no times when you are "resting" between jobs.

The downside to all this is that you may feel you are being a little dishonest, saying "I believe..." when you don't. Also, if you think Richard Dawkins's latest book My head is bigger than God's is a miracle of theological brilliance, then don't read the book when you think someone might be watching.

Pope and scalfari

What can possibly go wrong?

So suppose that promotion has come your way, and you are now the Pope. You may still feel the need to confide in someone, to tell them that you don't really believe a word of it. Should you infallibly and ex cathedra declare, "THERE IS NO GOD"? No, this might cause problems, and even popes can get sacked for being too silly. No, pick a friendly journalist, preferable one who is 105 years old, deaf, blind, unable to work a tape recorder, and known to have a vivid imagination. Tell him. Then, if he spills the beans, you can get your friends to deny it.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Amazonian pagans complain about the synod

Although Catholics as a whole have been very supportive of the Amazon synod, which started this week (where have you been, Eccles?) some disquiet has been expressed by the Amazonian pagans who were invited to take part.

Pope and Amazonians

Can the Amazonians trust Pope Francis not to be too Catholic?

Said a spokesman, known to his friends as Wise Spirit of Yucca, "We were promised a synod fully compatible with our beliefs, but elements of traditional Catholicism keep creeping in. For example, the Big Chief Pappafranco, who was expected to dress in traditional warpaint and feathers, keeps insisting on wearing a white gown. We can only described this as 'rigid'."

Worzel Gummidge

A synod participant, who listens to the wisdom of the crows.

His colleague, Holy Earth mother Kapok, added, "The Catholics also showed themselves totally unable to get into the spirit of idol worship that is the basis of our culture. It is true that they politely bowed down to our fertility symbols, including the naked wooden idol Austeniveri, but their own idols are totally blasphemous - they wear clothes, for one thing, and have been given the names of western imperialists such as Peter and Paul."

idol

A wooden idol, possibly St Peter.

In a desperate attempt to save the Synod, Pope Francis has agreed to appease the spirits of Mother Earth, to talk to the trees, and to listen to any questions ("Dubia") they may have to ask him. Which is more than his cardinals have managed to accomplish.

Pacman

Pachermanna, the Amazonian god. Why no place in Catholic liturgy?

LATE NEWS: A Catholic baptism goes horribly wrong, when it is discovered that the font was filled with piranha fish.

Cardinal Hummes agrees to conduct a human sacrifice, in honour of the wise spirits of the swamp, just as soon as Archbishop Viganò hands himself in.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Eccles has a papal audience

So I took part in a Tablet competition, and won first prize.

Put the following qualities of Pope Francis in order of importance:

Humility, Politeness, Orthodoxy, Spirituality, Good temper, Respect for tradition, Inability to bear grudges, Mercy.

The first prize was a 10-second audience with the Holy Father (the second prize, a 30-minute audience, was won by Fr James Martin SJ).

Pope and Fr Jim

"Drone... drone... LGBTSJ... building bridges... rainbow underwear... the Bible is wrong... don't you think I look a bit like a priest... pride... Mary Magdalene was a lesbian... I'm transitioning next year... change the catechism... gay fashion show in the Sistine chapel... shall we do some Ignatian yoga now?"

The audience involved turning up in St Peter's Square on a Wednesday morning and listening to a Bible reading and a papal homily, first in Italian, then translated into other important languages (this week it was Orcish, Klingon, DA-LEK, and Anglo-Saxon). Then the Holy Father would come round and greet people personally.

Pope and Ivereigh

At last I was treading in the steps of Austen Ivereigh!

Pope and Greta

And Greta Thunberg!

I didn't have a book to sell, or a political campaign to wage, so I took along a printed copy of this lovely blog for the Pope's edification, with the pieces on "How to be a Good Pope" highlighted.

He was approaching. Ten seconds with Michael Voris, ten seconds with Jacob Rees-Mogg, ten seconds with Cardinal Burke (only joking!), and he was in front of me!

What do you say to a Pope when you meet him? "You is not saved, only I is saved"? "Any answers to the Dubia yet?" "Sarah for Pope!"? I chickened out and said simply "Hello, how's the Poping going? Does it pay well?"

And then Pope Francis, successor to St Peter, and big cheese of the Catholic Church, deigned to give a personal message to me, a humble blogger. "SHUT UP, ECCLES!" he said, and I knew I had made a hit with him.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Four little journalists... and then there were two

Continuing on from this post on the World Cup of Bad Catholic Journalists, we have:

1. The clash of the Jesuits.

Antonio Spadaro. Vatican muscle-man. "Theology is not #Mathematics. 2+2 in #Theology can make 5."

Fr James Martin LGBTSJ. New York actor, model, and writer. "Between the time she met the risen Christ and announced the Good News to the disciples, Mary Magdalene was the Church on Earth."

2. The clash of the trolls intellectuals.

Prof. Massimo Faggioli. Author of 57 books, all wrong. "Some cardinals, like Sarah, have a problem with pope Francis because they have a problem with Vatican II."

Dr Austen Ivereigh. Founder of "Catholic Vices" and regular scribbler. "Bishop Curry was saying 'the balm of Gilead'. I heard 'the bomb of Gilead' and assumed this was a reference to a Biblical act of terrorism."

Matches begin on September 30th and October 1st and last 5 days.

RESULTS:

Spadaro 24, Martin 76

Possibly helped by a comic audience with Pope Francis, New York's favourite LGBT campaigner easily crushed Tony the Spider.

Faggioli 39, Ivereigh 61

A clear victory for the British boy here, who spent most of the week trolling the faithful, while Beans was too busy pretending to be clever.

So we move on to the 3rd place playoff and the FINAL.

THIRD PLACE: Spadaro 34, Faggioli 66.

An easy win for Massimo, who kept up a barrage of non-stop trolling. Spadaro just couldn't be bothered.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

How to deal with a schism

This is the latest in our series of self-help guides on "How to be a good Pope", designed for any of our readers who are one day thrust into a white robe, shoved onto the balcony in Rome, and told to SMILE.

Randall and Hopkirk (deceased)

A man in white discovers that he is the new Pope.

After a few years of poping, making up new doctrine in aeroplanes, thinking of insults for the faithful, appointing random dropouts as cardinals, and teasing everyone with new improbable synods, the thought may occur to you: IS THERE A SCHISM IN THE CHURCH?

Schisms can be identified by a variety of signs. It could be clericalism, moral problems, black cassocks and Saturno hats, for example. It can be no coincidence that the arch-baddie in the Bible is called Saturn (memo: check spelling). But mostly it's AMERICANS.

Of course, there are good non-schismatic Americans. Think of Cardinal Tobin, who tweets "Nighty-night baby" to each of his seventeen sisters, as well as any unemployed actors in the neighbourhood. Or Cupich. Or celebrity campaigner Fr James Martin LGBTSJ.

But there are others, far more sinister. Michael Voris, who used to be a friend of yours, until he discovered Catholicism and turned against you. EWTN, which, according to your great pal Dawn the Merciless, is run by Nazis. Worst of all is Cardinal Burke, who constantly does provocative things such as saying nothing to criticise you, preaching boring old Catholic doctrine, and meekly accepting all the insults that come his way. No wonder Austen Ivereigh can't stand him.

Damian Thompson Nazi

You haven't lived until Dawn has called you a Nazi.

Luckily you will be able to reunite the church with yet another synod, this one based on the wisdom of the tree-spirits of the Amazon (Hum-Mes, Czer-Ny, Mara-Di-Aga, and Spa-Da-Ro), as interpreted by your friend Rhino Marx. You will see semi-naked tribesmen, painted in gay colours, dancing before you - and those are just Fr Msrtin's friends from New York. Poisonous darts will fly in all directions - but that's just Ivereigh exerting his charm.

Yes, finally the Catholic Church will be united (with very few exceptions) in saying "THIS SYNOD IS A LOAD OF RUBBISH!"

Rhino Marx

Rhino Marx in his film role as Captain Wolf J. Piranha, the Amazonian Explorer.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Eight eminent journalists battle it out

Here is the draw for the quarter-finals of the World Cup of Bad Catholic Journalists. Eight superstars are battling it out, and updates to this post will be made as the results come in. Voting starts tomorrow.

1. Thomas Rosica v Antonio Spadaro.
42-58. The witless worm beats the plagiarist into submission.

2. Massimo Faggioli v Mark Shea.
77-23. Wisdom and ice-cream win over great charm.

3. Christopher Lamb v James Martin.
17-83. Lambkin has talent, but Jimbo is a class act.

4. Austen Ivereigh v Michael Sean Winters.
77-23. No surprises there, although MSW does his best.

Round 1 weeded out most of the non-entities, leaving mostly people of known power and influence. The carnage in Round 2 was severe: first Dawn the Merciless and the Horan of Babylon were left reeling; then feminism took a knock as Tuna Buttie and Ma Pepsi were sent back into the kitchen.

People's vote

Supporters of Bobby Mickens demand a re-vote.

Comrade Dettloff was then made an unperson, and Ratty Mickens was narrowly cast aside; finally Liz Bruenig, who got into Round 2 by asking her followers to support her, joined pianist extraordinaire "Paderewski" Walford in the bin. There's enough discarded talent there to make the Amazon Synod look orthodox!

Anyway, we look forward to some interesting fights now, with lots of blood on the carpet.

Beverley Racecourse

Place your bets on Martin, Ivereigh, Faggioli, or an outsider!

Monday, 2 September 2019

Pope Francis is stuck in the lift (elevator)

Shortly before issuing a list of new cardinals which exceeds all previous lists in absurdity (a bunch of homosexual activists, left-wing agitators, freaks, gnomes, toads, creeps and weirdos unparalleled since the time when Cupich was given a red hat), Pope Francis was apparently stuck in a lift for 25 minutes. The stress of this experience is maybe what caused him to muddle up two lists he was keeping - one of people to excommunicate and one of people to raise to cardinal.

Pope, lift

"Going down..."

Now, I know that I was seen in the Vatican today, optimistically pushing several lift buttons at once, but I must reassure you that I had nothing to do with Pope Francis's mishap. As in the 2013 Conclave we should thank the Holy Spirit for stepping in.

This is not the first time that the Holy Spirit has given a Pope a warning just as he was about to do something rash. Back in 2000, Pope John-Paul II was trapped in a broom cupboard for hours, just as he was about to issue a list of new cardinals containing the name of Jorge Bergoglio. However, he did not realize that this was a sign from above, and went ahead regardless.

Jean-Paul II, Francis

"No, no, Holy Father, I'm sure it wasn't a sign."

Going further back, Pope John XXIII was trapped in the toilet for six days in 1959, emerging to call the 2nd Vatican Council. Was his incarceration a sign from Heaven that it would bring trouble?

The saintly pope's experiences were commemorated in a song, which later became one of Marty Haugen's greatest hits:

"Oh dear, what can the matter be?
Pope John is stuck in the lavatory.
He has been there from Monday till Saturday.
Nobody knew he was there."
Still, not all mishaps suffered by popes are necessarily warnings that they are about to do something rash. But in the case of Pope Francis, there is little doubt (and he has received too few warnings).

Pope, windy

... and there came a mighty rushing wind...

Friday, 30 August 2019

The Two Popes

A new film "The Two Popes" about Pope Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio (as he was then), is soon to be released. As it will soon be available on the notoriously Catholic-friendly channel Netflix, we know that it will be completely true to the facts, and sympathetic to these two holy gentlemen.

Hopkins and Pryce

Hannibal Lecter stars as Pope Benedict, Elliot Carver as Jorge Bergoglio.

The plot (loosely based on Austen Ivereigh's pot-boiler Pope Francis, the Great Redeeemer) begins with Cardinal Bergoglio paying a humble visit to Pope Benedict in order to reassure him that, when he (PB) decides to retire, he (CB) will be ready to step in and correct all the mistakes that he (PB) has made, as well as the mistakes of all the other popes (P, L, ..., J23, P6, JP1, JP2) who came before him.

Hopkins

Nasty old-fashioned rigid Pope, no longer required.

Benedict offers Bergoglio some liver cooked with fava beans, and a nice glass of chianti, but the cardinal humbly declines the offer and explains his plans to use an encoder obtained by his henchman, cyberterrorist Henry Gupta, to provoke war between China and the UK.

I'm sorry, Austen, we're deleting that bit. You seem to have got the plot confused with The Silence of the Lambs and Tomorrow never dies.

Anyway, more details will be available later, but it seems that the main theological discussion concerns the Beatles, and Bergoglio asks the Pope whether he knows their famous song Emma Bonino. He doesn't.

Other hard-hitting plot lines involve a criticism of Bergoglio's shoes (made from the finest Argentine Amoorish Leatheria), and a general realization from all the characters involved that Pope Benedict is BAD and Jorge Bergoglio is GOOD.

Pryce

A humble modern cardinal, who would never dram of being Pope.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Let battle commence!

Here's the draw for the World Cup of Bad Catholic Journalists (with the word "journalist" being interpreted rather loosely in some cases). Conveniently, we stopped at 32 nominees, some of whom I had never heard of before; at least they all seem to be scribblers of one kind or another. We start with eight groups of four, from which the top two (decided by a Twitter poll) go through to the next round. Then a similar round to reach the quarter-final knockout stage. Gosh, this is exciting.

Podium of bad cardinals

Remember the World Cup of Bad Cardinals? Cupich; Marx; Kasper.

Journaliste Extraordinaire Round 1 Round 2
John Allen Jr 3 -
Tina Beattie 3 2
Liz Bruenig 6 4
Elena Curti 1 -
Dean Dettloff 8 3
Massimo Faggioli 5 3
Simcha Fisher 3 -
David Gibson 1 -
Dawn Eden Goldstein 2 1
Daniel Horan 4 1
Austen Ivereigh 8 4
Christopher Lamb 7 4
Basil Loftus 8 -
Matt Malone 5 -
James Martin 4 2
Joshua McElwee 4 -
Robert Mickens 7 3
Jeff Mirius 7 -
Jonathan Morris 4 -
Mike O'Loughlin 5 -
Catherine Pepinster 1 2
Philip Pullella 2 -
Thomas Reese 8 -
Ronald Rolheiser 6 -
Thomas Rosica 6 3
Alexander Santora 7 -
Mark Shea 1 1
Antonio Spadaro 3 1
Dario Viganò 2 -
Stephen Walford 5 4
Michael Sean Winters 2 2
Phyllis Zagano 6 -
Podium of bad hymn-writers

And the Bad Hymns? Lord of the Dance; Gather us in; Shine, Jesus, Shine.

Whoever wins is guaranteed the approval of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Tablet and the National Catholic Reporter. Oh, and Father John Zuhlsdorf*.

*I made that bit up.

Of course "bad" can mean whatever you like it to mean - anything from "irritating" through to "wrong on almost every issue". Some - but not all - of the above nominees are really quite pleasant people.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Satan complains, "I really exist."

The Father of Lies - no, I don't mean a certain New York Jesuit - is an avid reader of this blog (it is part of the eternal torment to which he is condemned); now we are privileged to be the first to publish a statement from him, furiously denying the claims of Fr Arturo Sosa SJ, the Big Cheese of the Jesuits, that he is merely a "symbolic reality".

"After all I've done for mankind, and this includes the Jesuits, in leading them into eternal damnation, it is a great insult to be labelled a mere 'personification of evil'. Think of all I've achieved in the past - tempting Adam and Eve, prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, making Job's life a misery, the Temptations in the Wilderness, perverting Judas Iscariot (a nice innocent lad until he met me)... Then there's all the influence I've had since then, most recently on my good friends Hitler, Stalin and Mao. Oh and Tony Blair. You'd expect some sort of gratitude, but No! I am reduced to a mere abstraction!"

Satan and Job

"Here's me, smiting Job with boils."

As usual, Mr Satan is not telling the whole story. It is part of the job description of Top Jesuit that you should issue heresy on a regular basis: in Sosa's case, he started well by saying that we could not trust Jesus's words because they weren't spoken into a tape-recorder, and besides, all contemporary videos were made using Betamax not VHS, so are now impossible to watch. Following this up with a denial of the reality of Satan has won Sosa praise from Jesuits worldwide, and guarantees him a second term as president of the Jesuits when the elections come.

Arturo Sosa in plain clothes

A Venezuelan football player (with tape-recorder) gives a Sosa impersonation.

Mr Satan has promised to put Sosa straight on his misconceptions: "I'm expecting to see him soon - we have plenty of Jesuits down here, so he won't feel out of place - and then I can show him which of us is a symbolic reality!"

Friday, 23 August 2019

Cardinal Pell accused of witchcraft

See also The Crimes of Cardinal Pell and the Case against Cardinal Pell.

Following the conviction of Cardinal Pell on the basis of totally unbelievable testimony, the Victorian Kangaroo Court of Appeal has confirmed the verdict by a majority of 2 to 1; that is, Anne Ferguson and Chris Maxwell believed him guilty "beyond all reasonable doubt", while Mark Weinberg disagreed, writing a mere 200 pages expressing one or two reasonable doubts.

The three judges

Spot the man with the functioning brain (R)

The arguments of Ferguson and Maxwell, if accepted, actually imply that Cardinal Pell was guilty of practising witchcraft, or possibly miracles (useful when his cause for canonization comes up).

* Your Eminence, you are accused of bilocation, in that your corporal body was standing outside the cathedral talking to dozens of people, at the same time as it was in the sacristy.

* Cardinal Pell, you are accused of bewitching your vestments, so that you could expose yourself under several layers of heavy clothing, while at the same time attacking your victim.

* Pell, you must have been aided by demons, as the above could only have been managed by someone with four hands.

* Pell, you rotter, you cast a forgetfulness spell, so that the victim did not remember anything of the event until 20 years later, and could not even remember when the events happened, and thereby made it impossible for you to call witnesses to prove that nothing happened.

Mr Bean sleeping

A key witness against Cardinal Pell. Oh, sorry, there weren't any.

* Pell, you complete and utter swine, your real offence is that you are a Catholic, and speak out against same-sex marriage and abortion, which are the pillars of Australian society.

* Pell, you will be damned eternally, because you noticed that the Vatican Bank had been up to some extremely dodgy transactions. Don't expect Pope Francis to help you, therefore!

With all this in mind, we indict Pell on charges of witchcraft, and sentence him to be burnt at the stake.

And this is the reasoned verdict of us, Mad Annie and Bonkers Chris. WEINBERG, WILL YOU SHUT UP?

Phew, Annie, I think we got away with it. Fancy a few tinnies to celebrate?

Monday, 19 August 2019

The World Cup of Bad Catholic Journalists

After the World Cups of Bad Hymns (won by "Lord of the Dance") and Bad Cardinals (Blase Cupich), it is time for the World Cup of Bad Catholic Journalists. The nominations so far are as follows, and before we start in about two weeks from now, we welcome other suggestions. (16 would be a more convenient number than 11, but we'll find a fair way to cope, however many we end up with.)
John Allen Jr
Tina Beattie
Massimo Faggioli
Austen Ivereigh
Christopher Lamb
James Martin
Robert Mickens
Thomas Reese
Thomas Rosica
Antonio Spadaro
Michael Sean Winters
(I'm sure I've missed someone obvious...)

As will be seen, "journalist" can be interpreted rather loosely. Apart from scribbling, most of the people above turn an honest penny by other means as well: boring lectures, trashy biographies, LGBT campaigning, plagiarism, or even - in some cases - moonlighting as Catholic priests!

Here are several qualities you might want to consider when casting your vote:

Martin, devil

Good taste...

Austen bomb

Familiarity with the Bible...

Rosica Wuerl

Knowing all the right people...

Mickens rat

Devotion to the Pope...

Massi drivel

The ability to decide which bits of Catholicism are in fashion this week...

Spadaro 2+2=5

Top marks in logic!

Some ground rules: the nominees don't need to be English-speaking, but some of their contributions must be accessible to the English-speaking world. There are no doubt numerous bad Catholic journalists writing in obscure Amazon dialects, but they must remain in obscurity for the purposes of this World Cup - they will get their moment of glory when the Amazonis Laetitia synod starts. The nominees must at least claim to be Catholic, whatever your private opinion of them ("Who am I to judge?") Bishops and above will not count as journalists, even if they send out monthly letters explaining how wonderful they are.

Nominations can be made by adding a comment to this blog, or by replying to my advert on Twitter.

In all things the infallible decision of the umpire (me) is final.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Catholic found in Poland

It turns out that rumours that the Catholic Church had become extinct - like the Anglican Church - were slightly exaggerated: a rare member of the species Homo Catholicus has been sighted in Poland. Jakub Baryła, a 15-year old boy, was observed in Plock, holding up a crucifix and making characteristic cries of Salve Regina in the face of the local Gay Pride Bore-athon.

Jakub Baryła

A rare sighting of a Catholic.

Said David Attenborough, the veteran expert on endangered species, "Unfortunately, no Catholic priests or bishops have been sighted (unless they were taking part in the march); moreover, we need a breeding pair of Catholics if the species is to continue. Still, there is some hope that further sightings of Catholics will be possible, if climate change has not wiped them all out."

Jakub Baryła under arrest

Police take the Catholic to a sanctuary.

Attempts to find Catholics elsewhere have so far proved inconclusive. For example, scientists are divided over which of the Pontifex Bergoglionis and the Burkeus Raymondus is truly a subspecies of Homo Catholicus (their calls are totally different). Most people agree that the Blaseus Cupichus cannot be regarded as any form of Catholic.

Dolan at parade

Dolanus Crassissimus, sighted at a "gay" parade, but clearly not a Catholic.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

The Dean of Norwich defends herself

The (Anglican) Dean of Norwich, her Holiness the Very Reverend, Sacred and Venerable Minerva Mouse, has defended herself against criticism that installing a helter-skelter into Norwich cathedral was irreverent, blasphemous, bonkers, and Satanic (you choose).

Minnie Mouse

Dean Mouse stands outside her magnificent cathedral.

"In a very real sense - and I know that Bishop Duck agrees with me - spiralling downhill very quickly is a metaphor for the modern Anglican church. But let us not forget the immortal words of Mother Julian of Norwich, author of Rotations of Divine Love, even if she was a Catholic, and therefore a bit too God-obsessed:

He showed me a great tower, ringed with a steep helix, lying in the nave of a cathedral, as it seemed. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, 'What may this be?' And it was answered generally thus, 'It is all that Man will worship in the future.' I marvelled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothingness. And I was answered in my understanding: 'It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it.'

All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well. WHEEEEEEE!!!"

Donald Duck

Bishop Duck gives the Blessing.

A survey of members of the Church of England produced the following results:

1. Only 30% believed in God (falling to 5% when it came to the clergy).

2. Only 20% realised that Churches were the House of God, rather than simply funfairs with better architecture.

3. When asked who was the Son of God, only 10% said Jesus. Other responses included Mohammed, Richard Dawkins, and Stephen Fry.

Norwich cathedral (the ancient one) has long been appreciated as a place for religion-lite fun, as the following picture of a dignified prelate shows.

bishop jumping on custard

Bishop of Norwich jumps on a tray of custard (yes, really).

Meanwhile, Dean Mouse has put up a small shed near the old cathedral in which Christian worship can take place. "There will only be room for two or three people at a time, but that should easily be enough!" she explained.

However, as one commentator put it: "I came a long way to see this church, and there wasn't even a coconut shy or dodgem cars! How do they think they will attract pilgrims?"

very small church

The new Norwich cathedral.