This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Tuesday 27 May 2014

The Pope takes a plane

On behalf of Pilot Pontius and his crew we'd like to welcome you all to our flight from Tel Aviv to Rome. Please take your places as soon as possible, and fasten your seat belts. Place all personal items either in the luggage racks or under the seat in front of you.

Pope on steps of plane

I'm hoping my briefcase will fit under the seat in front of me.

For those Anglican priests travelling with us as observers, please be aware that you are not allowed to have 39 articles with you in the cabin, and 38 of them will be placed in the hold.

Once we have taken off and the captain has switched off the seat-belt sign, the Pope will be coming round with a selection of off-the-cuff remarks and brand new dogmas. Today we have some confusing comments about priestly celibacy and remarried divorcees; unfortunately the Pius XII beatification kit is still unavailable, and frankly, barring a miracle, we don't expect to see it soon.

Pope at wall

The Pope's "clean-up" campaign starts here.

We're now ready for the safety demonstration. In case of a mighty rushing wind and tongues of fire, oxygen masks will drop down in front of you. In case of landing on water, there is an inflatable chasuble under your seat, although some passengers may prefer to dispense with this and walk on the water instead.

Pope gets a gift

"It's not by Rolf Harris, is it?"

There has been some debate on the nature and meaning of the Pope's reference to his own gestures, whether spontaneous or pre-planned, authentic or inauthentic. It is hoped that the author of the Pope Francis Little Book of Insults will soon delight us with the Pope Francis Little Book of Gestures.

Pope gesture 1

Learn how to tell this...

Pope gesture 2

... from this!

Sunday 25 May 2014

Eccles adopts an angel

In the past, dis blogg has encouraged poeple to adopt cradinals, deacons, and even pops, all of which needs our help on occasoins. However, we was astuonded to hear from our slightly-saved but very rood and norty friend Mundabor that we now needs to adopt angles.


Ullo, Eccles, you is my gaurdian human!

Apparently, Man is no longer lower than the angles, at least according to a telephone conversatoin that Pop Francis may have had with an angle, and so we gotta forget Pslam 8:5, Herbews 2:7, and the rest, and become de gaurdian humans of angles.

Pussonally I always confuses angles wiv Anglicans, cos I read in a history book (1066 and all that) that Pop Gregory said that some kids was Non Angeli, sed Anglicani. When I heard about this adoptoin scheme I was scared that I might get Giles Fraser to adopt (and be woken up every mornin by him doin his silly bit on the Today program), but in the end it came out OK, and now I got a luvvly young creecher called Angela sleepin in the spare room. She's thinkin of startin a blogg called "On the side of the humans".


Is these angles? Not sure where the wings is.

Adoptin angles is reely very easy, as they doesn't eat anything, and they will often help with the housework. One night a week they goes off and has a Heavenly Choir Practice - and they does spend a lot of time in the bathroom, singin Hosannas as they wash their wings etc. But you gets used to that.


Angela also likes dancing on the heads of pins.

P.S. Sorry if the spellin aint up to its usual standrad this week. My secretarry, Ecclesiis, went off in a hough when Angela moved in, and we aint yet found a replaicement.

Christians and antisocial media

Deacon Tommy, the most miserable man on the Internet, explains how social media brought him friendship.

Could this be the real @pontifex?

It's no secret that I am a keen user of Twitter, which is a wonderful vehicle for insulting and upsetting people. In particular, I find that anonymous Twitter profiles raise my blood pressure. Of course I don't often throw bricks through the windows of other tweeters, or make trouble with their employers, but it is something I would like to be able to do if push came to shove. But now I have relented, and this is due to an anonymous profile that goes by the name of @pontifex (for those whose Latin is as bad as mine, this means Bridge-Builder, so I naturally assumed that he was some kind of civil engineer).

The wobbly bridge - a clue to the identity of @pontifex?

This @pontifex uttered a Tweet that was sent on to me: Dear friends, please pray for me during my pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Naturally, I gave him the usual treatment: I sent him a nasty message, and blocked him on Twitter. I have a friend who is an IT expert, and he managed to track down @pontifex to the Vatican; after a bit more snooping we had the confidence to send the following to @pontifex: Hello, @pontifex, or should I call you Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto? Does your employer know you Tweet in office hours?

My Archbishop, Smiffy, and others from the CBCEW, trying to work out what they think of civil partnerships.

However, @pontifex was fully understanding, and his kindness and charity moved me to tears. Yes, it really did. Or it may have been the onions in the shed where I do my antisocial media stuff. @pontifex said that he'd heard about me, and he was going to offer prayers on my behalf. Being a humble person, he lives in a shed as well, so there is a bond between us.

The humble shed in which @pontifex lives.

Actually, I think @pontifex had come across my blog "Catholic Vizzes", where I make witty personal attacks on priests, members of Catholic Voices, and anyone else who is more popular than I. Maybe I shouldn't mention this, but a certain bishop to the west of the Pennines told me that he wished his own deacons could be as charming and restrained as I am!

So in my general crusade for peace, I have decided to accept that @Pontifex is (nearly) as good a Catholic as I am, and my latest theory is that he is Br George Pontifex, a monk from Cambridge. Still, I gather that he also uses a "sockpuppet" title, Pope Francis, and this definitely not the name he was born with!

Deacon Tommy (with help from Agatha Christie) gets the measure of Eccles.

Friday 23 May 2014

Church posters found offensive

It is reported that in Attleborough, Norfolk, the police have been called in because a lad named Robert Gladwin was offended by a poster outside a Baptist church. (So it's "Police launch probe into church sign.") What's more the cops even took the complaint seriously.

Attleborough poster

The offending sign.

One of the stars of the Norfolk Constabulary, P.C. Wurzel ("Wurzel of the Yard - well, Field") commented. "Mr Gladwin was naturally traumatised to discover, at the ripe old age of 20, that Christianity isn't just touchy-feely stuff, but there are such things as Heaven and Hell. He was away the day they did Religion at school."


Offensively corny. But we can't touch you for that.

Those who know about these things say that the vicious Christianity of the Attleboro' Baptist Church makes the Westboro version look like fluffy bunnies. Although the offending poster has now been removed, there may be further trouble with a replacement that has been proposed.

Robert Gladwin poster

Robert Gladwin poses in front of the new poster.

Norfolk is generally a peaceful part of the country, with little serious crime (Wurzel of the Field usually doesn't get to deal with offences more serious than farmers rotating their crops without a licence), and this hideous Christian hate-crime has shocked the entire town of Attleborough.

It should also be pointed out, for those who missed our earlier post, that Salvation is now a human right, and so Pastor Rose's poster was effectively denying the human rights of atheists who really don't care about religion, good or evil, but nonetheless have the same post-death benefit entitlement as anyone else.

Another Hell poster

More filth!

Probably the best solution is for Pastor Rose to stick a sign up outside his church saying "ARE YOU A THICK OAF WITH BIG FEET? BECOME A NORFOLK COPPER!"

rail map

Forget Attleborough: to be saved, go one station to the west.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Catholics told to laugh more

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh has produced his own ten commandments for Catholics online, of which the basic message is "be funny".

Archbishop Martin and his mother give us a smile.

Of course, @pontifex has long appreciated the virtue of humour - for example, he made Vincent Nichols a cardinal - and his Twitter contributions are regularly sprinkled with signs such as :-) LOL and even ROFLMAO. Admittedly, some say that a pontifical tweet such as "I had Rice Krispies for breakfast - SNAP CRACKLE AND POPE! :-)" is theologically less profound than what Benedict XVI might have written about the hermeneutic of breakfast cereals.

Pope happy

Looking like Eric Morecambe does give one an advantage in the humour game.

In particular, the Pope's recent excommunication of Gert and Martha Holzer of the "We Are Church" movement was performed in a characteristically comic way, as Bishop Manfred Scheuer was sent round to their house to deliver a "excommunicate-o-gram". They are now said to be changing the name of their outfit to "We Aren't Church Any More".


... and I heard that ACTA will be next!

The New Testament itself is not without humour: the "strain out a gnat and swallow a camel" comment of Our Lord is a clever Aramaic pun on gamal and gamla, which got an appreciative ROFL from the 1st century audience, but loses a little in translation; moreover, the thing about motes and beams is distinctly surreal. So the archbishop is on solid ground there.

Dolan ROFL

All right, Cardinal, it wasn't that funny.

Now is the time to confess that we don't really do jokes on this blog. A pun did slip in last July, and long-term readers may remember something ironic from 2012. So we will try and follow the archbishop's advice and lighten up.

Of course, not all Catholics are very good with social media, and some would find it difficult to smile without undergoing some preliminary surgery. It would be rude and naughty to single out anybody here.


... and I don't want to see any of my deacons smiling.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

How do saved persons vote?

In the UK, we are in the grip of election fever, and many of my readers are struggling to decide which party or parties to vote for. When you see the policies now considered acceptable by almost all parties: abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, sending children up chimneys, recapturing Calais, exporting all British ducks to Mars, taxing custard, making it compulsory to recycle all used socks, independence for Scunthorpe, free orange juice for Damian Thompson, locking up all bald people, exiling Stephen Fry to Fiji, ... you realise that nobody has any policies that a saved person could support. Except perhaps the one about Stephen Fry.

Padre Pio voting

This is how a saint votes. Note the expression of distaste.

The main question at present seems to be "Do I listen to Bishop Kenney, who says that UKIP is unsaved, or do I listen to Bishop Egan, who reckons that practically every politician is unsaved?" At a more basic level, is the European Union the New Jerusalem prophesied in the Book of Revelation, or is it the new Babylon, to be consumed by fire? I don't know: perhaps it's somewhere in between the two.

van Rompuy and the pope

"Roger Helmer says he can beat up the two of us single-handed."

We come now to the question of Romanians: are they saved? For some reason, these have been singled out by some as the worst Europeans to have as your neighbours. Here, however, I have some personal experience.


Our new next-door neighbour.

Recently, a Romanian nobleman, the Earl of Dracula, moved in next door to us. He's basically a very quiet person, and apparently works nights. Indeed, I never see him in the day time, although occasionally he drops round in the evening and asks to borrow a cup of blood

RIP coffin

Apparently, our neighbour supports the Romanian Independence Party.

Basically, he's a model neighbour and I don't see what all the fuss is about. I've got other problems: my Brother Bosco, who has a habit of saying "Bite Me!" whenever he loses an argument (which is most of the time), seems to have gone missing. I do hope he hasn't been annoying the Earl of Dracula.

Finally, to answer the question raised in this post: go to the polling-booth, write "unsaved" against the name of every candidate standing, and write "only I is saved" at the bottom of the ballot-paper.

No other course of action is possible. Indeed, if you look carefully at the photo of Padre Pio, you can see that he did precisely that.

Sunday 18 May 2014

Exit Ruth Gledhill

So Fleet Street's last religious affairs correspondent, Ruth Gledhill of the Times, has been made redundant. Said one commentator, "Her stuff was behind a paywall, so I never read it; and what I did see, I usually disagreed with, but she was a GOOD THING."

Ruth Gledhill and nuns

Did nobody tell Sister Ruth that we don't have a "dress-down Friday"?

One or two part-time religious correspondents remain. At the Telegraph there is John Bingham, who does "social and religious affairs", whatever that might be - it's not as silly a title as "strategic events coordinator", which was how Tom Chivers used to earn his daily crust - and of course there is also the notorious Damian Thompson, who writes about religion and custard.

Damian, Nigel, and Eccles

Damian Thompson chats to an old friend.

Then newspapers such as the Guardian can always pump something into Sir Simon Jenkins in order to get a foaming-at-the-mouth rant, blaming religion for everything from HS2 to the World Cup fiasco.

Of course, religion is increasingly irrelevant to modern life. When the Catholic Church decided to canonize Popes John-Paul II and John XXIII, nobody turned up, and the Pope was left talking to an empty St Peter's Square. When the Anglicans decided to ordain women as bishops, nobody really cared one way or the other: the dead bodies on the floor of the synod were just an accident caused by someone's finger slipping while he was cutting sandwiches.

Michelle Obama, unsaved

Even Michelle Obama's moment of honesty went unnoticed.

There do remain "niche" newspapers for the religious maniac: the Church Times, which is running a feature on How To Cut Sandwiches At A Synod Without Killing Ten Passers-By; also, numerous Catholic papers such as the Tablet, which publishes articles such as Which Pope Do We Hate The Most? Then there's the Catholic Times with its comedy column Loony Lofty and his Hilarious Heresies Re-interpretations of Scripture.

Of course, Ruth Gledhill was a national institution. Being the daughter of vicar, the niece of a Pope, the great-aunt of a Chief Rabbi, and the uncle of an Imam, she has religion in her blood. We shall not see her like again.

Saturday 17 May 2014

The Diakonia of Beauty

Continuing our exploration of the Cannes Festival we came to an event of spiritual nourishment.

Festival of beauty

The sacred festival of beauty. The "off" of the soul (!?)

This event is organized by the local diocese in conjunction with La Diaconie de la Beauté. At first I thought this was something to do with deacons, who are often beautiful creatures with beautiful minds, but in fact a Diaconie is better translated as Diakonia, which is concerned with the poor and needy.

Now, who are the poor and needy in this context? Well, as far as I could ascertain, they are actors. The sort of poor and needy actors you see at the Cannes Festival.

Bosco in Cannes

Brother Bosco blends inconspicuously with the beautiful people.

Indeed, one of the events (next Thursday if you can make it) features Michael Lonsdale, a.k.a. Sir Hugo Drax, the villain of the James Bond film Moonraker. Not poor, not needy, not even a poor actor.

Hugo Drax

Possibly not a saved person.

Another event that the church is organizing is a Concert inter-religieux "Les Trois Religions". Apparently the three religions - which seem to be regarded by some as interchangeable, equivalent, and all as good as each other - are Christianity (yay!), Islam (hiss!) and Judaism (somewhere in between on the Eccles "how saved is you?" scale). I guess that if a passing fakir had walked in and wanted to lie down on his bed of nails, he would also have been welcome.

china cat

Gratuitous cat-picture from Cannes to make the blog more popular.

We did drop in to one event of this festival; it was a concert called De Marie-Magdeleine à François et Claire d'Assise, which might reasonably be expected to have some religious content. However the bit we heard consisted of rock music and a man singing (if I understood it correctly) about Earth and Water. I guess the pagan wing of the Church would have appreciated it.

angel of diakonia

The angel of the diakonia.

Now, when we landed in Nice, I tried to emulate the great Father Z. and take a picture of the aeroplane seat in front of me - that sort of thing always makes a blog popular. However, by mistake, I was facing ad aquilonem rather than ad orientem, and so I took a liturgically-incorrect photo out of the window. Mea culpa.


Cannes, as seen from my plane.


We have arrived in Cannes for the start of the Film Festival: last night we saw a very exciting new film called Downfall, which we strongly recommend.

Hitler complacent

Right, we've imposed a voluntary gag on the deacon. No more "Protect the Pope"!

bad news

Mein Bischof... the deacon's wife is still blogging!

Hitler upset

Himmel! She knows where the bodies are buried.

Hitler rant

She must be stopped! And the deacon must continue his voluntary silence!

girls upset

Don't worry, the bishop won't try and interfere with ACTA.

Hitler fed up

Why doesn't anyone read my blog? There's no moral guidance in it whatsoever!

More from Cannes soon, including something religious, possibly...

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Pope Francis baptises a Dalek

Following Pope Francis's comment that he would be happy to baptise a Martian, it has been revealed that on Monday he actually baptised a Dalek in a private ceremony.

baptised Dalek


We asked Dalek Pancras to tell us about his baptism (his original name was Birt but he changed it, having been baptised on St Pancras's day).


This in itself is unusual, as so many Catholics (even cardinals) wouldn't dream of taking any notice of what the pope says. Dalek Pancras went on to explain how the Pope had advised him to stop exterminating people, or, if that was not possible, to try and cut down a little. If things didn't work out, the Pope had said, "Who am I to judge?"

We asked Pancras what his future plans were, and he said that he was very interested in modernist trends in the Catholic Church, and that he was already learning to sing Paul Inwood's AL-LE-LU-IA-CH-CH and to practise his liturgical dancing.

kiss of Jabba

Newly-converted Christians sometimes have trouble with the Kiss of Peace.

Tuesday 13 May 2014

BBC sacks man for using the S-word

It has been reported that the the BBC has sacked one of its Thought for the day speakers, Fr Jeremiah Clarkson, for using the "highly offensive" S-word. Obviously on an invariably polite and courteous blog such as this one we cannot print the S-word in full, but for those who don't know what we are talking about, it begins with S and rhymes with "dinner".

Eccles the Stig

"Stig" Eccles, a colleague of Fr Clarkson.

Said a spokesman for the BBC, "Times have changed, and language that would have been perfectly acceptable 50 years ago is now regarded as offensive. The S-word has not been used in polite company for a long time. The important message of religion is that God loves us all (or, when the Muslim speaker is on, that God hates us all), and to call someone a S... oops, it nearly slipped out, there - is grossly offensive."

Fr Giles Fraser, a seasoned Thought for the Day veteran, agrees: "When I see someone acting in a really unpleasant way - for example, repeating Christ's views on marriage - I may go so far as to call them a Bigot, but I would never insult anyone by using the S-word. After all, the concepts of Good and Evil aren't compatible with modern secular religion."

Madame Cyn

Cynthia Payne (Madame Cyn), a well-respected moral philosopher these days.

In other news, our Boat of Fools sent its "mystery worshipper" to check out the Harvard Black Mass. It turns out that the attendance was rather small, as the publicity on the church noticeboard was unappealing, to say the least.

Harvard Black Mass

The Devil does not have the best advertising agency.

Some people were attracted to the Harvard church by the prospect of seeing a virgin sacrificed; however, when they saw what was on offer, they hastily made their excuses and left.

nuns for choice

Ceci n'est pas une nonne.

Saturday 10 May 2014

Canterbury and Liverpool, the Eternal Cities

Various parts of the United Kingdom are thinking about becoming independent in the near future: Scotland, with the hard-hitting slogan "It's Scotch Whisky"; Cornwall ("They're Cornish pasties!"); Yorkshire ("They're Yorkshire's Puddings!"); and even Eccles ("Hands off our cakes!").

None of these areas is particularly holy - with the possible exception of Eccles - and thus the English Church has decided to follow the Vatican model, and find an autonomous base of its own. Canterbury was the obvious location, and this will now become a separate country, to be referred to as Anglican State, with the current archbishop, Justin Welby, taking the title "Pope Justin".

Canterbury Tales

One of the sacred books of the Anglican faith.

In fact, it was thought for a while that Liverpool might be a more suitable site for Anglican State, since it does at least have one cathedral that was not originally built by Catholics: it's the one that actually looks like a cathedral. However, moving to a city that names its airport after a pop singer was too silly even for the Church of England. Moreover, the Queen, as supreme governor of Anglican State, has refused to move to Merseyside, because - as she complains - they'll never let her walk alone.

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

An Anglican cathedral not built by Catholics.

It is hoped that the establishment of Anglican State will make some of the governance of the Anglican Church run more smoothly. For example, in the Catholic Church it takes a week to appoint a new pope (but two years to appoint a new bishop, because they need to be sure to appoint one who has saintly qualities). The Church of England, on the other hand, took about a year to find someone who wasn't John Sentamu was both deeply spiritual and the sort of experienced businessman of whom Christ would have approved.

Digression: the Church of England Human Resources people insist that aspiring archbishops undergo a gruelling series of psychological tests. Here's an example:

The reigning monarch says you are "turbulent". Do you:
(a) Go into the cathedral to pray?
(b) Buy yourself a stab-proof vest to wear under your cassock?
(c) Apologise and hope for the best?
(d) Book a quick pilgrimage to the Holy Land?

It is thought that the popes of the Vatican and Anglican will have good diplomatic relations. Here they are, comparing notes about who has the funniest rebels in his flock.

Pope Francis and Justin Welby

"... as the ACTAs said to the bishop!"

Late news: Seeing that Liverpool has been rejected as a site for the Anglican City Richard Dawkins has determined to set up a new atheist republic, Dawkin City, in the Liverpool suburb of Knotty Ash, with himself as Pope Richard. He has even written a national anthem, which will be sung by his people whenever he makes a ceremonial appearance:

We are the Dawky Men, 
Dawkins' little Dawky Men, 
We are the Dawky Men 
Who come from Knotty Ash!
Dawky Men

The Dawky Men.