This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Orange bids for the Catholic Church

Telecommunications giant Orange today announced a hostile takeover bid for the Catholic Church, which, if successful, should mean significant changes in the way the "customer in the pew" is treated.

nasty orange

The future may be orange.

The Vatican has reacted angrily to the takeover bid, with Pope Francis encouraging all Catholics to boycott Orange. In response, the ever-loyal Tablet has signed up its managing director, Tom Orange, as a new columnist, and Tina Beattie has written an article explaining that Veneration of the Virgin should really be Veneration of the Orange.

Pope Pius XII

How odd. They want to speak to my Superior.

If the Orange bid goes ahead, then priests will be replaced by "customer service personnel", mostly based in India, who will start to hear customers' confessions and hang up half way through. The standard of services in general will decline, and customers may well find themselves "cut off" from God without notice.

orange Mass

What you will see - a Mass in the new "company" vestments.

Tom Orange was at pains to reassure Catholics that they would see very few differences from what they are used to, but Irish Catholics in particular have pointed out that ever since the days of his ancestor, William of Orange, they have been deeply dissatisfied.

William III

William of Orange - once a hostile bidder for the Catholic church.

Monday 28 October 2013

Eccles and his sockpuppets

Brilliant detective work has at least revealed that Brother Eccles is a master of sockpuppetry. In addition to running 500 Twitter accounts - his ambition is to run the whole of Twitter single-handed - he also manages to write 200 different blogs on (mostly) religious subjects.

puppets for Jesus

A Vatican-approved guide to puppetry.

Here are examples of some of the blogs that Eccles maintains. You will notice that they all have exactly the same style.

carrying a donkey

The Eccles Catholic donkey blog.

Today I took Vincent, the most troublesome of my 24 donkeys, on a walk to the Bar Moli in Finestrat, where we shared a bottle of gin to celebrate the feast of St Jude. Unfortunately, he was unable to walk home again, so I had to carry him back. Then when we got home, he logged onto Twitter and started insulting random people. I should never have given him his own computer.

Chaplin in shed

The Eccles paranoid Chaplain blog.

What people don't realise is that deacons are priests. So priests should stop feeling superior to us. You wouldn't let me into your Superior Clergy Club, would you? Even though I made myself a biretta. What's more I don't want to hear anything from mothers who stay at home with babies. I'm a mother too, you know. Well, a father. And I stay at home all weekend. Except when I go out. I hate you all, especially the puppetmaster Eccles.

St Joan on a bike

St Joan Blogger.

Hello, everyone, this is Auntie Joan, the writer, biographer, historian, poet, humourist, Olympic cyclist, brain surgeon and Renaissance woman. Auntie has had a very exciting week, as Pope Francis phoned her up to ask if she had any advice to give him on how to write encyclicals. Auntie told him, "Write everything in the third person, as it produces a vibrant prose style." Auntie is taking part in a discussion with Pope Francis on Vatican Radio soon, and she will make every effort to prevent the Holy Father from saying anything embarrassing - that should be easy, because he probably won't be able to get a word in edgeways!

The Eccles "Holy Smoke" blog.

Maria Joao Pires

Maria João Pires - found herself playing Mozart's 4th horn concerto.

Take a look at this ancient video that someone sent me. It shows the pianist Maria João Pires in a terrible dilemma. She was expecting to play a Mozart Piano Concerto with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, but when the orchestra started, she found that they were playing his 4th Horn Concerto. Resourceful to the last, she grabbed a French horn from a member of the orchestra, and gallantly blew her way through the concerto. Said the orchestra member, a Mr Flanders, "I've lost that horn - I know I was using it yesterday. I've lost that horn, lost that horn, found that horn ... gorn."

The same thing happens to me sometimes. I have prepared an in-depth article on custard for the Telegraph, when the editor comes to my desk and says, "Damian! It's Catholicism this week." Being an experienced journalist, I take out my blue pencil, change all the references to custard, add something about the impending murder of the Nuncio, and - voilà! - in 5 minutes I have the piece that I was asked for.

Pope and Swiss guard

The Protect-the-Eccles Pope blog.

The Tablet ludicrously misreports Bishop Conry's meeting with ACTA to discuss their recommendation of abortion as a human right, in an attempt to ban the Bible in all English dioceses, while Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's refusal to attend a SHAG week in Rome sends out mixed signals to Enda Kenny, according to the BBC.

Protect-the-Eccles Comment: Phew! This one's too much for me.

Cottingley fairies

The Hermit of Cottingley blog.

The autumn colloquium of the British Province of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy was very well attended, but some delegates found that it was disruptive to hear cries of "Let me in, I'm a deacon!" outside the window, as we sang Gregorian chants in the bar at night. From now on, the Confraternity has agreed to admit deacons as well, except for ones who are obviously insane.

See? All these well-regarded blogs were really by Eccles, all along.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Bad hymns 26

Today is an historic occasion, as this is the first time that we are inviting back an Eccles Bad Hymn Award author who has already spoken to us. We talked to Estelle White a few months ago about her remarkable hymn The Perfect Face, but the nominations are for the hymn, not the author, so here she is again with Moses, I know you're the man.

E: Estelle, it always moves me when I see that one of your hymns is scheduled... in fact sometimes it moves me out of the church completely. Welcome back.

EW: It's great to be with you again, Eccles. You're really going to appreciate this hymn.

E: "Moses, I know you're the man" the Lord said.
"You're going to work out my plan..."

I've got it - A man, a plan, a canal - Panama! One of the world's great palindromes!

Panama canal

Moses's cunning plan is to lead his people across the Panama canal.

EW: No, no, Eccles, no canals. What the Lord says next is that Moses should lead the Israelites out of slavery and He will make them a wandering race, called the people of God.

E: Well that's a very good offer, if you like wandering, I suppose. Are you sure that the wandering idea didn't come later, when the Israelites started misbehaving? It's not in the original contract.

EW: Let me sing the chorus, Eccles, as you'll have to sing it four times yourself:

So ev'ry day
we're on our way,
for we're a travelling, wandering race
called the people of God.
E: I see... well, no, I don't. You're identifying us with the Israelites lost in the desert? Or some other walking party?

Star Wars

Is Estelle White thinking of us?

EW: Anyway, the rest of the hymn simply wrote itself. I rang all the changes on travelling, wandering, vagabond, moving... until I ran out of steam.

E: With some brilliant couplets on the way, I see.

Don't get too set in your ways,
Each step is only a phase.
This doesn't actually make a lot of sense if you think about it, does it? I would have preferred:
I seem to be lost in a maze:
It must be one of those days.

EW: Try this instead:

Look at the birds in the air,
They fly unhampered by care.
E: With respect, Estelle, are we not getting away from the main message of the song? We're having a race.

London Marathon

We're a travelling wandering race.

EW: Well, nearly right, Eccles. Anyway I am delighted to know that at least three separate people nominated my hymn.

E: Yes, I've arranged counselling for them. Estelle, thank you very much.

Previous entries for the Eccles Bad Hymn Award:

Lord of the Dance.    Shine, Jesus, shine.    Enemy of apathy.    Walk in the Light.
Kum Ba Yah.    Follow me.    God's Spirit is in my heart.    Imagine.    Alleluia Ch-ch.
It ain't necessarily so.    I, the Lord of sea and sky.    Colours of day.    The red flag.
Go, the Mass is ended.    I watch the sunrise.    Bind us together, Lord.    Our god reigns.
My way.    Ding-Dong! The witch is dead.    If I were a butterfly.
Journeys ended, journeys begun.    The Galilee song.    The perfect face.
Jesus Christ the apple tree.    On eagle's wings.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Enda Kenny taken into care

In Ireland it has been reported that little Enda Kenny, 62, has been taken into care, after it was discovered that he had no features in common with the Roman community who had been bringing him up.

Little Enda

Little Enda with his alleged parents.

Said a police spokesman, "We did a full DNA test on Enda, and failed to find any of the usual moral principles that we associate with the Roman community - for example, he had a strange fascination for abortion, which you would not expect to see in such people. Moreover, his whole anatomy is unusual, as he has no moral fibre and no backbone."

Eamon Martin

Eamon Martin, de facto leader of the Roman community in Ireland.

Eamon Martin, the man whom the Roman community calls "the big cheese", has said that he had noticed that little Enda was rather different from the rest of his people. However, he had decided not to expel him, hoping that the boy might blend in unnoticed. Unfortunately, it was not hard to see that he stuck out like a sore thumb.

sore thumb

A sore thumb, similar to that like which little Enda stuck out.

The police are making enquiries in other countries, and it seems likely that a large number of similar cases will be brought to light. In Britain for example, Operation Tablet has been launched, which is likely to net a huge number of misplaced Romans. "These people need to be taken into care," said Inspector Welby ("Flying Welby of the Yard"),"and I think they will be happier with us."

flying Welby

Flying Welby of the Yard.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Bishop accused of a luxury lifestyle

The main news item on the BBC, and elsewhere, today has been the case of the German Catholic bishop, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, who has apparently been suspended for living a luxurious lifestyle, considered inappropriate by the new St Francis-inspired Church.

Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst

The bishop: note the expensive painting, when a photo of his cat would have been more suitable.

In vain did the bishop offer to accept a cheaper lifestyle, by selling off the more lavish parts of his name (a Peter Tebartz van, low mileage) and calling himself simply Franz Elst.

camel and needle

The Pope's favourite painting in the Vatican museum.

Other bishops may also expect trouble. For example, Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, lives in expensive accommodation in central London, and he has been advised that it would be better if he lived in a bedsit in Tower Hamlets and walked in to work every day. Excuses that "it's handy for my Cathedral" are just unacceptable in this day and age.

Conry the builder

Kieran Conry oversees the construction of a new "Pease Pottage Stately Pleasure-Dome".

Meanwhile, the Anglicans were similarly embarrassed, after it was revealed that their supreme governor, Mrs Elizabeth Mountbatten-Windsor, 87, was living in a luxury palace in London. However, it turns out that apart from her religious duties, she has a part-time job ruling the UK - and various other countries - and so the "Anglican in the pew" does not pay directly for her lavish lifestyle.

Pope Francis himself is interested in demonstrating his fidelity to the spirit of his mentor, St Francis the First, by cutting out all luxury and living on crusts of bread and any kitty-kill that the Vatican cats bring in. So far his experienced adviser, Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, has dissuaded him from doing this, not least because he himself doesn't fancy joining the Pope in a diet of vole sandwiches.

Pope dressed as fireman

Pope Francis exchanges his costly zucchetto for a simple helmet.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Honecker College Students Union chooses its speakers

And now over to Honecker College, London, where the student union committee is going through the formal vetting procedure for its invited speakers.

Young Stalin

Humphrey Stalin-Jones, president of the Students Union.

Tamara Gaddafi-Smith (save-the-sardine awareness officer and LBGTWTF rights): So we're inviting Abu Hamza, Rosemary West, Kim Jong Un and Ed Miliband. All good solid Guardian-readers apparently. I can't see us having much trouble with them!

Claud Pol Pot-Johnson (support loyal Myanmar, troops out of Norfolk, and feminist goats liaison): No problem there. Also, I think Gerry Adams, Peter Tatchell, Stuart Hall, and Bashar al-Assad could be invited. I can't see any difficulties there.

Philippa Trotsky-Brown (gay hamster support and eat the Royal Family campaign): Stuart Hall? A better choice than Jimmy Savile. He was a Catholic, you know. Also could we invite Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter and the Dark Lord Sauron?

Hannibal Lecter

I would be delighted to visit your college. What's for dinner?

Claud: I'm not sure of their addresses, but their CVs look fine. I'll try and contact them. So there's just one more name on the list?

Tamara: Yes, one Peter D.C.X. Williams of Catholic Voices. Well, we can't have him, he hasn't gone through the correct procedures.

Philippa: Ah yes, Rule 94: the candidate must renounce God and declare unconditional support for gay sex. But there's not much chance of that, the word "Catholic" is rather a giveaway. REFUSED.

Peter Williams

What a terrifying person. No wonder he's banned.

Tamara: Funny you should say that, our next nominee is someone called Catherine Pepinster.

Omnes: No problem!

Monday 21 October 2013

2 Chronicles

Welcome back, class. I hope you are enjoying the Eccles Bible Project, as we work our way through the Bible, explaining it to beginners. Now today's book of the Bible contains more Jewish history, and duplicates a lot of what we've seen already, so last week I set you all some homework - read 2 Chronicles and write an essay on it.

Ricky Gervais

Gervais! Put your feet down. And where's your essay, boy?

Ah, Dawkins, our star pupil. What's your essay about? Why Solomon wasn't as wise or as rich as what I am. Yes, that's just about on-topic. In 2 Chronicles we do get nine chapters about Solomon, building a temple, running a fleet of chariots bearing the message "THERE'S DEFINITELY A GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING - UNLESS YOU'RE AN ATHEIST," and getting rich from the royalties on his father's psalms. But your essay seems to be mostly about you, and why you should be King too. Could do better, lad.

Moab is my washpot

Not really a useful guide to the 10th century BC.

Now, Fry, I know you once wrote a book called Moab is my washpot, which is a line taken from the psalms. However, when I read it, it seemed to be all about you rather than any of the people we're looking at today. So what is your essay entitled? Rehoboam or Jeroboam - which had the cutest boam? I've got a nasty feeling about this one. Let's move on.

Hari? You have an exclusive interview with King Asa of Judah, in which he tells you that he did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God? Splendid. We'll read that later.

Charlie Chaplin

The chaplin demonstrates a liturgical dance.

Oh yes, Marvin the paranoid deacon. You were sent here on a refresher course, I gather. Do stop spitting at your neighbours. So you've written something for us, explaining how the entire Bible was written by a sockpuppet of Eccles? And you have invented some characters in the style of your favourite newspaper, Viz? That's like the Tablet but a little more Catholic, right? Brilliant idea! Let's see what's on offer.

King Silly Man the not-so-wise. Who is it based on? A boy at school who borrowed your pencil 35 years ago and forgot to give it back? Crumbs, that's biting satire, well done. He'll be seeking counselling, I'm sure.

J. Whosa Fatty, the overweight king of Judah. Ha ha ha, brilliantly witty. Yes, it's true that a certain priest is a little overweight; I'm sure he'll recognise himself there. Yes, I know, isn't it terrible how priests look down on deacons? Well, on some deacons. Well, on you.

Neighbourhood-nurser and Baby Lon. Oh, you're killing me. A woman with a baby, whom you hate intensely because she has got more friends than you? That'll teach her to humiliate you!

Mum and Bea

Neighbourhood-nurser and Baby Lon (ho ho!)

Well, we'd better stop there. Next time we'll look at the book of Ezra, which may be a bit more spiritually nourishing.

Sunday 20 October 2013

Who advises the Pope?

Marco Tosatti has written an interesting piece for Vatican Insider, giving the names of those people to whom Pope Francis talks and listens. However, the article is implausible from beginning to end - nobody with any sense ever listened to Piero Marini - and we are happy to provide a corrected list.

Tony Flannery

Tony Flannery.

Tony Flannery has long known that he was right all along, and the rest of the Catholic church in grievous error. The author of many books, such as Why I excommunicated Pope Benedict, Enda Kenny - man or God? and Come back to Me: my invitation to the Catholic Church. As a Redemptorist, Flannery is subject to the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience (no, really). By bringing him back into the inner circle, can Pope Francis be signalling a change of direction?

Damian Thompson

Damian Thompson of the Telegraph.

One of the first questions a pope asks himself is, "Where can I get good custard?" and fortunately Pope Francis can now draw on the expertise of the Telegraph's custard-crazed ferret. Since Damian is also able to advise on cupcakes, Bach, addiction, and the best way to stop Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor hanging around making a nuisance of himself, he is rapidly becoming indispensable.


The Spirit of Vatican II.

Pope Francis does of course have a hotline to Heaven, but his first point of contact is Loftus, the Spirit of Vatican II. This angelic being explains to him all the things that were not actually written down in the Vatican II documents, or even agreed, but which were "in the spirit". Pinocchio Masses, replacing Gregorian chant by Estelle White's Moses I Know You're The Man and liturgical dancing - all these were what almost-Saint Pope John XXIII had in mind as urgent priorities when he called the Council.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson.

The Pope has a number of secular advisers, whose job it is to help him with public relations, to avoid gaffes, and to speak his words carefully, bearing in mind that they will be repeated and interpreted by people of all shades of opinion. These advisers include Boris Johnson, Prince Philip and Gordon Brown. As a result, we are unlikely to see the Pope stuck on a zipwire, asking Archbishop Philip Tartaglia "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to go to Mass?" or referring to bigoted women.


Catherine Pepinster.

Marginalised under Pope Benedict XVI, Catherine Pepinster of the Tablet now plays a valuable role in telling Pope Francis what he actually said. An off-the-cuff remark that perhaps now is not the time for the Church to begin burning homosexuals becomes, after a little interpretation, a firm pledge that the pope will soon be welcoming "gay" bishops and their partners. Similarly, the Pope's comment that he was kept awake by a crying baby when he slept in his humble apartment at the Hotel Casa Santa Marta (5 stars) becomes a promise that the Catholic Church will soon change its mind on abortion.

Owen Jones

Owen Jones.

Owen Jones of the Working Classes (seen above with a bottle of working-class champagne) is there to help the Pope avoid the extravagance and pomp of his predecessors. With his deprived background (Oxford University and the Independent), Jones is the ideal person to help Pope Francis with his "humility" campaign. "The party's over," he says, "or at least we're running low on champagne!"



Eccles, seen here with a liturgically-correct (he claims) green biretta, is the ideal person to consult if one wants to be saved. Pope Francis was already a regular reader of his blog, and met him in Rome at the time of the last conclave, disguised as a cardinal. Eccles's instructions are clear: Tell me what saved popes do, and he is already formulating an action plan.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Study for the BDSM at Heythrop College!

Heythrop College, the University of London college of philosophy and theology, a centre for Catholic training, is proud to announce a new degree course, the B.D.S.M., or Bachelor of Divinity, Spirituality, and Morals.

discipline nun

Discipline is an important part of academic study.

In this course, which is highly suitable for those wishing to train for the priesthood, we emphasise strict discipline, following the rule of St Beatrix - we are not sure who Rix was.

Doctor and monk

Dr Hartnell applies a corrective to a trainee monk.

When they enrol on the course, students have to sign a binding agreement with the College, and they are rigorously held to it. The main principle of the course is said to be based on the words of St Augustine: Lord, grant me chastity and continence; but not yet. In fact, O Lord, just give me lots of wild sex and I'll confess it all later!


A trainee deacon meditates.

We asked a lecturer at Heythrop College whether he thought this degree programme was entirely suitable for the spiritual life, but he said, "Not really, but I'm afraid I can't do anything - my hands are tied."

progressive Catholic coalition

After their training, priests will be able to conduct Masses like this.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Living with Telegraph blogs: my week with a cult

Mark Templer writes:

Mark Templer

Mark Templer, former head of the London Church of Christ.

I was recently invited to spend a week at Thompson Towers, the secret London headquarters of Telegraph blogs, a group so authoritarian that it has been accused of being a bullying cult.

The director of the cult, Damian Thompson, presides over a team of sinister people whose job it is to produce propaganda in order to win converts. I met some of these during my visit, but some operate from outside Headquarters: for example Mik "Bluebottle" Wright lives in a Dublin pub, where he bites passers-by in the ankle.


"Tis I, Brokenbottleboy. Waits for audience applause. Not a sausage."

Thompson himself writes propaganda, but, as he was at pains to admit, his intention was not to convert me, simply to bring Blog into my life. "Sometimes I write about Catholic issues: indeed, I have a contact in the Vatican who keeps me fed with the latest gossip - Pope Emeritus Benedict at death's door, Archbishop Mennini poisoned with polonium, Piero Marini to be named Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Arthur Roche to become Archbishop of Westminster, Jimmy Savile to be canonized - and I pass it on. Admittedly, most of what he says is false, but there's no holy smoke without fire, is there?"

weird Damian

Damian Thompson: "Mostly, however, I write about custard."

Some of the Telegraph bloggers are even weirder than Thompson. For example, I met a man they called simply "Delingpole", who spent all his time kicking kittens round the office, and his deadly enemy, an old fat man called "Lean" (evidently an alias), who told me that climate change would cause the polar ice-caps to catch fire and kill us all by 2015 unless we taxed cows, banned foreign holidays, and made it illegal to go to the toilet on Thursdays.

steam kettle

Every time you make a cup of tea a polar bear drowns.

It's been said that the Telegraph bloggers are predominantly Catholic, and that their propaganda is designed to brainwash readers into knocking on Vincent Nichols's door at 3 a.m. demanding to be saved. Far from it! Admittedly, there is Tim Stanley who sometimes writes on Catholic issues, and Cristina Odone who puts forward a variety of irregular opinions, pretending that they are Catholic, but that's about it. After all, there is also Tom Chivers, the token liberal atheist Guardian-reader, who has held a succession of meaningless job-titles, starting with "Assistant Brainwasher", then "Strategic Brainwashing Coordinator", and finally "Vice-Ferret and Brainwashing Executive".

brainwashed Damian

Damian Thompson again, looking distinctly brainwashed.

So for a week I stayed in Thompson Towers, while the Telegraph staff watched old episodes of Are You Being Served? on a giant screen, occasionally taking time off to send each other funny cat pictures on Twitter, or even to churn out another 300 words to confuse their readers. In the end I left, still puzzled, but definitely unbrainwashed and with my sanity intact needle nardle noo f'tang ying-tong iddle I po. I need a lie down.

Telegraph bloggers

Rear: James Delingpole, Janet Daley, Toby Young.
Front: Damian Thompson, Jenny McCartney, Benedict Brogan.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

The crimes of the Tradiban

Sister Modernia of Frite-sur-Épaule writes:

It's time to show up the less liberal wing of the Catholic church for what it is - a branch of the Taliban.


Traditionalists Catholics on their way to Mass. That's probably Eccles on the right.

Let us compare the crimes of the Taliban and the Tradiban, and you will see that they are almost identical.

Forced deportation. I attended a Vetus Ordo Mass last week, and the Spirit moved me to a bit of impromptu liturgical dancing. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, twist and shout!" I sang, while the priest was doing something at the altar - I couldn't see what, as he had his back to me and was rudely talking in Latin. All I knew was that he was ignoring my 1960s "Spirit of Vatican II" rock. But what happened? A couple of Tradiban women grabbed me and bundled me into the street. That's the sort of thing they do.

Torture. I force myself to read the New Testament, the Catholic Herald, the Hermeneutic of Continuity blog, and even the Protect the Pope blog. What do I find? Orthodox Catholic doctrine, without a mention of the people's uprising that is to come. This is cruel and unusual punishment. Still, I feel it's my duty to read these reactionary works, and complain about them.


The Tradiban even described the Tablet as corrosive!

Persecution of women. The Tradiban refuses to entertain the thought that next year women will be ordained as priests by the Catholic Church. According to the Tablet, it is inevitable, now that the people's revolution has overthrown Pope Benedict! They prefer to subjugate us, and make sexist remarks to us like "Nice hat you're wearing!" and "Ooh, what a lovely baby you've got!" They hate us if we don't wear mantillas in church - I can tell they hate us, they don't have to say anything.

Kiss me quick

Prof. Tina Beattie models an alternative to the Tradiban mantilla.

Narcotics trafficking. They're all high on incense, take it from me. I went to a Tradiban Mass and lit up my pipe, as I would do in my usual church, Christ the Küng, and everyone protested, even though the air was already thick with smoke. Evidently, there's a Tradiban plot to monopolize the narcotics market.

Holy Smoke

All I wanted was a holy smoke.

Well, I think I've made my point. The Tradiban has modelled itself on the Taliban, and we liberal Catholics must fight them!