This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Wednesday 31 December 2014

The Top 100 Christians, part 2

The blogger Cranmer has now opened the envelope: the results of the poll for the top 100 living UK Christians are now out, and the Vicar of Baghdad is a worthy winner. I first blogged on this here, and I am delighted to see that my tips of Vincent Nichols and Giles Fraser were taken seriously. No laughing at the back, there. Also, we had a near miss when we tipped Bishop Campbell of Lancaster, since his most obedient deacon, Nick Donnelly, was on the list.

Blair praying

A truly holy man, and an obvious omission from the list.

Some of the winners have achieved great fame through publicity on this blog: for example, Vicky Beeching, who came out as a rock singer; Tim Stanley, alias Dr Who; Fr Ray Blake, the victim of the Brighton Argus; and Libby Lane, the first Anglican bishopess. Not to mention Austen Ivereigh and Catherine Pepinster. That's enough plugging old posts, Eccles.

Tina Beattie

Tina Beattie - omitted, in spite of all my efforts.

So who else should have been on the list, and wasn't? I was going to suggest Santa Claus, as he manages to be present in numerous places at the same time, proclaiming the joy of Christmas. However, he turns out to be Turkish, although his holding company is based at the North Pole.

Then there's Christopher Robin (Milne), as in "Christopher Robin is saying his prayers", but he turns out to be dead. The priest-detective Fr Brown of Kembleford, if alive, must be about 130 years old by now: it is rumoured that he lives in retirement in Scotland, calling himself "Basil Loftus" and emerging occasionally to write a humorous column for the Catholic Times. However, this rumour is unconfirmed, so I searched for others who embody the true Christian spirit.

Thomas the tank engine

Thomas the Tank Engine, in papal camauro.

Thomas, although a train rather than a human being, comes from a Christian family (the Rev. Wilbert Vere Awdry was his godfather). He is often described as a "really useful engine", but this does not go far enough. In terms of his faithfulness to Christ and his kindness to the poor, he surely provides one of the great spiritual examples of our time. It is true that he has a high carbon wheelprint, and would thus not be in favour with Pope Francis, but I think he can easily overcome such opposition. Success always attracts jealousy.

Fr Jack

Fr Jack Hackett.

Although technically Irish, Fr Jack was featured in the Father Ted series of documentaries, which had two British producers, Geoffrey Perkins and Lissa Evans. This makes him eligible for an award, which he wins on account of his great holiness and kindness. Hostile critics have described him as "lecherous", "foul-mouthed" and "alcoholic"; it is true that when he awakes from a deep coma and shouts "EXISTENTIAL SCHIZOPHRENIC" or "NEO-PELAGIAN" at random passers-by, one wonders how he achieved his high position as spiritual leader. However, he is a truly humble man, whose needs are simple (mainly, DRINK), and we plainly see the Light of Christ shining through him.

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Adopt a saint!

I have just come across a program that assigns you a random saint. Of course I had to try it, and out came St Gotthard of Hildesheim, who was new to me, as I presumably am to him too.

St Gotthard

My saint.

From now on, we expect to be better acquainted, but Gotthard (if I may call him that) seems to have his hands full looking after travelling merchants; he is also invoked against fever, dropsy, childhood sicknesses, hailstones, the pain of childbirth, and gout; not to mention those in peril of the sea. It is unlikely that I shall ever suffer the pain of childbirth, unless it means my own birth, which was a distinctly rough experience, what with the doctor, who had never even met me before, thumping me on the back and then cutting my umblical cord. No wonder I hated the experience.

Hailstones are another matter - these are presumably a meteorological condition, rather than a medical one (that's gallstones), and like almost everyone else I am occasionally troubled by them. Saying "Hail, Mary" doesn't seem to be quite right here.


Pray to St Gotthard! Or alternatively, just go indoors.

In a previous piece I adopted a cardinal - Ouellet, who does not seem to have acknowledged the gifts I sent him: Eccles cakes, a statue of myself, and a copy of my autobiography Eccles, the man of destiny. Part 1: the unsaved years. Later, I adopted a deacon, and then a pope: in this case, Hyginus, the first pope never to have been canonized. I'm still working on that one,

So now I have to think of ways of supporting St Gotthard. Obviously a few preliminary prayers are in order, of the "Hello, Gotthard. I'm your patronized human; may I invoke your help some time?" sort. Then perhaps one day I shall make a pilgrimage to Hildesheim, which is not far from Hanover. He'd like that.

Basilica in Hildesheim

On my way...

For a saint, Gotthard had a relatively dull and uneventful life. He was a monk first, then became bishop of Hildesheim in 1022. During the fifteen years of his episcopal government, he won the respect of his clergy, as Wikipedia puts it: a custom that has long since died out in Germany. He also got some thirty churches built, which is something of a miracle in itself.

All in all, I am quite happy with my adopted saint. Presumably he will accept prayers in English: everyone understands English IF YOU SPEAK LOUDLY ENOUGH. Or maybe Latin - how nice to have a universal language available for all purposes to do with spiritual nourishment. I'd better start now: is that a touch of gout coming on, or is it just pins and needles? Salve Gottharde...

St Gotthard Pass

Hospice in the St Gotthard pass.

Celebrities ask for assisted death

A group of celebrities has written to the Telegraph "demanding" that politicians agree a plan to legalise assisted dying. And if nothing is done, then they'll scream and scream until they're sick. They can, you know. Apparently, 25 people a year travel abroad to be killed (compared with, say, the 1700 who are killed in road accidents), so action must be taken to make their self-destruction easier.

Eric Idle

Eric Idle. Obviously an expert on the morality of killing people.

As many will remember, the prime mover for the "Why can't people be bumped off?" campaign is Lord Falconer. Note that a falconer is one who has control of a certain bird of prey, which is used to kill off weaker creatures - sorry, "assist weaker creatures to die" - and it is possible that Charlie Falconer is merely reverting to the traditions of his ancestors.

Captain Picard

Set phasers on "assisted dying"! Patrick Stewart joins the campaign.

Of course, not all the signatories to the Telegraph letter are actors. Oddly, Stephen Fry is absent (which must automatically invalidate the list). Some of them are very eminent: one signs himself as Lord Rees of Ludlow OM, so that you know that he is a Very Important Person indeed, and not just any common or garden Lord Rees who wouldn't know one end of a telescope from the other. The fact that Martin Rees knows his Mars from his Albireo means that we should take his opinions on assisted dying more seriously than those of a man with no telescope. Lord May of Oxford OM, who has been Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government (yes, one man who knows all the science there is to know), is another who was wearing his "I've got an OM" tee-shirt when he signed the letter.

Lord Rees

Lord Rees of Ludlow OM demonstrates the use of a telescope by putting it to his ear.

Fortunately, there appear to be no Catholics signing this infamous letter with the stench of death about it - how nice to be able to praise Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor for being a wise and moral Christian! There is one senior but retired Anglican who - as is well known - has gone over to the dark side: namely, the Humpty-Dumpty lookalike, George Carey. O George, time for a refresher course in Christian morality, you poor deluded buffoon. We've done this before, but this picture is worth another airing.

Angel of Death

George Carey dresses up as the Angel of Death.

Monday 29 December 2014

Religious predictions for 2015

Our predictions for 2013 were pretty much on target (we didn't repeat the exercise for 2014), so here is what is expected to happen in 2015.

January. ISIS troops run away in terror from an army of little old ladies. David Cameron celebrates this victory - for which he takes the credit - by going on yet another holiday to foreign fish-markets.

old ladies fencing

Training to combat ISIS.

February. Bishop Campbell discovers that Deacon Donnelly is still spilling the beans about bad behaviour in the Catholic Church, even though his "Protect the Pope" blog is closed down. He confiscates the deacon's laptop and telephone, places him under house arrest, and warns him to talk to nobody. Donnelly continues to proclaim the Catholic faith by means of smoke signals from his chimney.

March. Cardinal Dolan attends the New York St Patrick's Day Gay Pride March. Rather than look ostentatious by parading in full clerical dress, he disguises himself as a golfer (see below).

Cardinal Dolan

"A cardinal, me? No, I'm just off for a game of golf."

April. Tony Flannery, the "silenced priest" is encouraged to go on a retreat to a Trappist monastery. However, he is thrown out after two days because he refuses to stop talking. He blames the Vatican.

May. Pope Francis welcomes a party of disabled children to the Vatican. In a three-hour harangue, he lists 94 faults that they are guilty of, and reduces the entire class to tears. At the end he concludes "Who am I to judge? I'm the pope, that's who I am."

disabled children

Preparing to meet the pope.

June. Paul Inwood makes a desperate bid for recognition as a respectable composer by releasing his "Rest" (the word "Requiem", being in Latin, is unacceptable to him). After hearing the opening chorus "Eternal Rest, zzz, zzz, Eternal Rest", critics suggest that he take out all the notes and replace them with rests.

July. Arundel and Brighton hosts a "Woodstock II" happening to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the diocese. Kieran Conry asks if he can bring his "plus two" with him, but this is refused. With Rowan Williams, Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and Timothy Radcliffe as guests, the organizers realise that they are a little short of Catholics, and invite Hans Küng, Tony Flannery and Tina Beattie as additional speakers.


Distinguished speakers arrive for the Arundel and Brighton happening.

August. The Church of England is accused of "institutional sexism" as it is revealed that it has not had a male Supreme Governor for 63 years. Prince Charles offers to take over, with the title King Ali Krishna Siddhārtha Charles, defender of all faiths except Catholicism, but in the end Goodish Queen Bess continues as before.

September. Pope Francis publishes a biography of Austen Ivereigh, the great reformer, suggesting that Cormac Murphy-O'Connor had a hand in his election as head of Catholic Voices. A clarifying statement is issued soon afterwards, confirming that Ivereigh himself knew nothing of this.

Pope and Ivereigh

Pope Francis presents Austen Ivereigh with a copy of his book.

October. The World Synod of Bishops is held. To make sure that the "right" decisions are taken, Pope Francis asks Cardinal Kasper to write the relatio in advance. He then "accidentally" sends out invitations with the wrong venue to Cardinals Burke, Pell, and Müller, who find themselves stuck in Trent.

November. Pope Francis resigns, saying that he's had enough. Cormac Murphy-O'Connor takes charge of "Team Nichols", with the result that the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster is the surprise choice for pope. This is astonishing, as nobody had suspected that he was even a Catholic.

Paul Priest

The Archbishop of Corby misses out again.

December. Pope Francis II (to give him his official title) invites Tina Beattie to lecture in the Vatican, and offers the Sistine Chapel as a base for the World Gay Catholic Society. The Tablet warmly approves this move.

Sunday 28 December 2014

The Pope's Encyclical on Climate Change

Blessings upon you, my flock. Before we start, may I just mention that you're all suffering from spiritual jetlag and climatological hangovers, you brood of vipers. Indeed, the purpose of my addressing you today is to warn you that you are destined for the furnace of fire, as warned in Matthew 13:50. For unless we instantly ban all cars, lightbulbs and washing-machines, the Earth will be consumed by flames, and that can be pretty disagreeable, I'm sure you'll agree.

fire billowing from chimney

You have been warned!

Now, in this letter I want to concentrate on the teaching of two doctors of the Church. The first is his eminence Michael Mann, who saw a mystic vision of a hockey-stick, which, like the Holy Grail, turned out to be very elusive when people searched for it in this world.

Sir Michael de Mann seeks the Holy Hockey-Stick.

The second learned doctor is his eminence Albert de Gore, author of An inconvenient truth, which correctly predicted that the world's temperature would rise by fifty degrees in five years, the seas would rise by twenty feet, and that the whole of the UK would disappear under the waves, except for Ben Nevis, UNLESS we bought carbon credits from him and banned all things that emit carbon dioxide, including pet cats, bishops, and bottles of Coca-Cola. A prophet is without honour in his own country, as someone once said - I can't remember who, off hand - and it is to the shame of the human race that the blessed Albert was so cruelly mocked.

Albert Hall

Albert Hallin Kensington Gore.

I myself have noticed a change in climate. Since I moved to Rome, I have observed that July and August have become far hotter than they ever were in Buenos Aires. Admittedly, January and February have been a bit disappointing, but since they insist that I wear heavy papal vestments, rather than the humble rags favoured by St Francis, I never find it very cold.

You may think that there are more serious issues we need to address in the world: the complete massacre of Christians in the middle-east is undeniably irritating, and I shall be writing a stiff letter to Mr Jihad-John pointing out that he is slipping into neo-Pelagianism. Some of you may think that world famine is an inconvenience, and others may wonder whether letting 600,000 people per year die of malaria is a Good Thing or not. But that's all peanuts compared with the threat of having to turn the heating down by a degree or two in the next hundred years.

sphinx in snow

Dangerously hot weather in Egypt!

The Catholic Church is taking a lead here: from now on we'll have no more candles, and no more burning of incense - these are nasty traditionalist warming rituals that smack of Donatism, as my expert on heresy, Cardinal Nichols, assures me. Stop sniggering at the back there, Cardinal Pell. I'll deal with you later.


Right! Stop that at once!

Since China is building dozens of new coal-fired power stations, you may wonder whether there is really any virtue in our turning off the heating and dying of cold this winter, simply in order to reduce our own CO2 emissions. Well, when the Apocalypse comes, the unbelievers will suffer first, mark my words. In the words of Jude 1:7: Shanghai and Guangzhou, and the neighbouring cities, in like manner, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.

Meanwhile, I am doing my bit for the salvation of Cardinal Burke, by driving him out into the cold. What a thoughtful pope I am.

Addendum: I did not make this up. Just as Richard Dawkins became an instant theologian, the Holy Father has become an instant climatologian.

Friday 26 December 2014

How to be a saint

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then obviously you are clearly slightly saved already. However, you may be interested in something better, namely, the reassurance that you will be heading straight for Heaven when you die, without any intermediate steps such as Purgatory, a Last Judgement (which could be very disagreeable, even if at the end you scrape through with a "Not Guilty" verdict), or anything else you might see as a possible hazard en route.

Barcelona airport

Two saints turn up at the Pearly Gates.

The first thing to remember is that saints are not actually saintly people. Consider the case of St Dismas, the "good thief". Along with his mate Gestas, the "bad thief", he made a complete nuisance of himself in 1st Century Palestine. With his mask, his striped jersey, and his bag marked "SWAG" - an unusual sight in Judæa - he would break into houses and steal primitive computers - Amstrads, probably - or pick pockets. Luckily, they never tried this on Jesus, who would have detected it instantly, as He did when the woman touched His cloak. Still, at the end (admittedly very painful for him), Dismas said the immortal words "It's a fair cop" and ended up in Heaven.


Dismal Dismas.

Moving on a bit, we come to St Augustine, with his famous saying, "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet." I know we live in a "who am I to judge?" era, but I really don't advise you to try this bit of gradualism at home. Augustine converted to Christianity at the age of 32: since he lived to be 75, he behaved himself, more or less, for 43 years, and just spent his spare time blogging. Incidentally, his mother was also a saint (Monica), but in general such titles are not hereditary. So we have here a different way to sainthood, and one more suitable for most of my readers, who are not thieves, as far as I know.

My third and last case study is Pope St John-Paul II. Like Dismas (on a Very High Authority Indeed) and Augustine (by Popular Acclaim), John-Paul was canonized very quickly - 9 years after his death - and the fact that he made it to pope may have had something to do with this. But even John-Paul did some startling things.

kising the Koran

Kissing the Koran. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.

We never got to the bottom of this story. Perhaps it was just John-Paul's habit to kiss any large book that came his way, whether it be a Bible, an Encyclopædia Vaticana, or even a humble telephone directory. The last is not such a bad idea, actually, as it may be interpreted as blessing all those within, yeah, even from brother A.A.A.A.0.0.0.Dyno-Plugg, the plumber, right through unto the blessed Zzygmunt Zzzzzzuhlsdorf of the Magic Circle (available for parties, weddings, and bishops' conferences). Still, kissing a Koran is something we do not generally advise.

John-Paul was of course a better man than we are, and has even been recognised to have performed some post-mortem miracles. Still, his route to sainthood is a hard one to follow, if only because we cannot all be popes.

Conclusion: I still haven't worked out a thoroughly reliable recipe for sainthood. More later, after I have consulted my brother Bosco, who is undeniably a saved person.

vicar clown

Could this be the way to Salvation?

Thursday 25 December 2014

Calling all women!

Hello, girls! I'm from the Pontifical Council For Culture, where we've produced a really great video designed especially for you.*

*Update: the video has been removed now. Still, here are the highlights.

Difference and Equality

Feminism at its most profound.

I'm sure you have asked yourself many questions, as a woman. Who am I? Where am I going? How do I get there? Where's my purse? Did I remember to lock the door? How long is he going to hide in the garden shed, when there's a lightbulb to change? Why did I buy spinach for dinner, when I hate spinach? Why do washing machines always make exactly one sock disappear?

These are deep spiritual questions, the sort that a woman has to ask herself, if she is to be truly who she is. Or who she isn't, even. It's all a question of girl power, and showing the Catholic Church that women are real men. Or women. Whatever.

Spice girls

Tell the cardinals and bishops what you really really really really want!

You can make a difference. Just take a selfie of yourself (or a one-minute video), and send it to Who knows? It could be chosen as one of the ones we show to the cardinals and bishops at an amazingly exciting meeting in Rome in February 2015, to explain to them what women are really like! Yes, you too can change the direction of the Catholic Church. Or at least, you may end up cooking spinach for the Pope!

Wonder Woman

A typical "selfie" of a woman in her daily life.

Well, that's all I've got to say to you, girls. We all have problems that men just don't understand. Mine are a complete lack of personality, an IQ only slightly higher than that of a turnip, and a relentless desire to irritate people. And I'm sure you're the same. So, if you're having trouble operating your camera, do ask a man to help.

Patronizing and Dumbed Down

Oh, and do it by January 6th. After all, you're not very busy, are you?

Wednesday 24 December 2014

The Great Reformer: Christ, the radical Messiah

We are finally able to publish a review of Austen Ivereigh's new book The Great Reformer: Christ and the Making of a Radical Messiah, which has caused so much controversy. Since his surprise appointment in December 1 BC (or whenever it was), Jesus Christ has emerged as the most talked-about and most revolutionary Messiah in living memory. He has become a subject of fascination not only to the 2.2 gigaChristians in the world, but to virtually everyone.


A Nativity scene. Note the life-size Austen Ivereigh model looking on (L).

A certain amount of scandal has arisen over the circumstances of Jesus's appointment as Messiah. It is said that there was a "Team Jesus" in place a long time beforehand, containing such illustrious figures as Isaiah and Micah; it persuaded people that the Baby born in Bethlehem was the one to support, and not, for example, rival candidates such as the Emperor Augustus, the Dalai Lama (any of them), Haile Selassie, Prince Philip, or various other people who have been worshipped as gods.

Team Philip

Members of the rival "Team Philip".

If Dr Ivereigh's allegations are true, then apparently the prophets Isaiah and Micah risk excommunication. On the other hand, Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who was also around in the BC/AD switchover period, is not generally associated with "Team Jesus", so he is probably in the clear.

Since coming to power, Christ has upset many people with His strong words. Most recently, He accused the Pharisees Conference of being "A generation of vipers", and even the loyal Cardinal Peter was labelled as "Satan". Perhaps after all He is not the meek and mild Messiah that some expected when He was elected.

cleansing the temple

Cleansing the Curia of Financial Leprosy.

Monday 22 December 2014

Attack the Curia the Pope Francis way!

In an attack on the Vatican's bureaucrats this morning (warning, it's a link to the Tablet), Pope Francis listed 15 disorders that he said had infected the Curia, from "spiritual Alzheimer's" to joylessness and "existential schizophrenia".

Francis and Curia

"You're all afflicted with anagogical head lice!"

Now you too can attack the Curia the Pope Francis way! Choose one from each of Sections A and B below, and Voilà!

Section A

Frankenstein and monster

"Give it straight to me, Doctor! Have I got gnostic housemaid's knee?"

Section B

Boils on the backside
Ingrowing toenails
St Vitus' Dance
Dreaded Lurgi
Black Death
Space sickness
Lazar's Disease
Clone-Killing Nanovirus
Dragon Pox

A cardinal is rushed to hospital with seraphic laryngitis.

Now, you can talk learnedly at dinner parties about the problems of the Roman Curia. For example, "Mrs Pepinster, I've always said that the Roman Curia was afflicted by Numinous Ingrowing Toenails. How wonderful that Pope Francis is there to sort out the problem!"

Don't be a Donatist! Be nice to your bishop!

The Bones blog tells of a fascinating document Reflection Document for Clergy on Marriage and Family Life, produced by the CBCEW, warning clergy against the heresy of Donatism.

Robert Donat

Robert Donat in "The 39 Articles Steps".

Donatism, as every schoolboy or girl knows, was a heresy condemned by St Augustine. This was in the time of Diocletian's persecution of Christians: Christians were being forced to bake cakes bearing slogans in favour of same-sex "marriage", other Christians lost their jobs when they repeated Christ's teaching on marriage and the family... Well, in these times, various Christians renounced their faith, or at least kept very quiet about it. Some bishops even allowed "gay" masses to take places in their dioceses, or invited known dissenters to lecture.

Now, when the the climate was a bit milder, and people felt able to speak freely once more, then the Donatists refused to accept the sacraments at the hands of such "apostates". This is heretical, and we must take the view that - however badly your bishop has behaved - he is still a priest in good standing. If he marries you - er, to someone else, that is - baptises your child, or anoints you with oil, or whatever, then it's all perfectly above board.

Vin gets his red hat

"Something's not quite right here, Vin."

In fact, the CBCEW letter isn't condemning true Donatists who may refuse to accept the legitimacy of priests: it is changing the meaning of the word to refer to those who refuse to give communion to remarried divorcees, those in same-sex relationships, and others who do not wish to give "Go and sin no more" a try. It's always a good move to label your political opponents with some obscure heresy, rather than coming out and saying exactly what you mean. We've been accused of neo-Pelagianism and Donatism; coming soon: accusations of Arianism, Marcionism and Montanism, or you may be identified as one of the Bogomils, the Patarini, the Dulcinians, the Waldensians or the Cathars.


Do you look like this? If so, you mean be guilty of Bogomilism.

The explanation for the gibberish in the CBCEW document is simple. It was written by all the bishops, sitting in a large "magic" circle, each taking it in turns to supply a word. Some of the bishops dozed off while this was being done, or woke up shouting "Drink!", so the process was not entirely reliable. As Mr Bones has hinted, "Donatist" was actually one portly bishop's cry for doughnuts.

Sunday 21 December 2014

Don't let Pope Francis turn into Sylvester McCoy!

In a very interesting piece for the Catholic Herald, Tim Stanley complains that the modern Dr Who character is becoming too atheist. There has been a change from the Jon Pertwee days, when the Doctor was almost certainly a staunch Anglican - if the Anglican Church was the Conservative party at prayer, then Dr Who was the Anglican Church hiding behind the sofa. Over here we have observed a different phenomenon: the Catholic Church is being led by a new Pope, who bears a suspicious resemblance to Sylvester McCoy.

Sylvester McCoy and Nicholas Parsons

Pope Francis (L) with Guido Marini.

The signs are all there - a general feeling of bewilderment, as if the Holy Father is unaware what forces he has unleashed, together with an air of total chaos as nobody really knows what direction the Church is heading in. Pope Francis's aim is not to judge anyone (except when he chooses to, of course) and the state of play in the fight between good and evil is generally uncertain.

Kandy man

Pope Francis has an ecumenical meeting with a Buddhist from Kandy.

Contrast this with the more rigorous, formal, regime of Pope Benedict XVI. Here of course the Doctoral model was William Hartnell, a thoroughly orthodox but much stricter character, who wouldn't suffer fools gladly.

Meddling Monk

Pope Benedict gets tough with a renegade monk.

Pope Benedict made great use of his Tardis to visit earlier times: one famous story in which he was involved was Summorum Pontificum, set in Rome. Here, the language of Latin was used throughout (although when shown on television it was dubbed into English).


Pope Benedict explain the use of Latin in the story Summorum Pontificum.

Before the Pope regenerated into Benedict XVI, the role was played by John-Paul II, who may be seen as a Patrick Troughton figure: saintly, but sometimes prepared to clown around. Still, a good man to follow when fighting Cybermen, Yeti, Communists, etc.

Troughton and book

Pope John-Paul II working on his latest encyclical.

Pope John-Paul II was known for visiting many far-flung parts of the Universe (he would usually kiss the ground on the planet when his Tardis landed). As a result he met a plethora of exotic creatures, many of which seem to be immortal.

Troughton and Cyberman

A meeting with Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.

However, the Sylvester McCoy model is definitely prevailing in the Catholic Church right now. So, what shall we see next? A female Pope is as unthinkable as a female Doctor, even though his arch-enemy managed to regenerate into a woman (the Mistress Beattie). Moreover, we are unlikely to see a Pope along the lines of ultra-liberal modernists such as Tennant or Capaldi. We may end up with a Colin Baker - some cardinals really have no taste in vestments - but a calm, sophisticated pope with fantastic hair is expected next time round.

Doctor Who as a monk

Br Pertwee (R) - the next Pope?

Saturday 20 December 2014

There's good in all of us

This blog has occasionally been criticised for taking a negative attitude towards certain people - apparently casting down the mighty from their seats and exalting the humble and meek isn't appreciated if you're one of the ones being cast down - so today we get into the Christmas spirit and praise everyone. After all, even Pope Francis is supposed to have said that all of us are redeemed, and this also applies to our pets, especially cute ones.

Mother and child, by A. Hitler.

Sister Wendy Beckett comments: This charming picture, from the "Nazi" School of art, shows a touching scene of a mother and child. See the devotion in the mother's eyes, as she regards her little baby, born to be Führer, while he looks around, perhaps wondering whether he needs more Lebensraum. Evidently, the artist was a kind and sensitive man, who knew the true meaning of love. Do look up his life history, as I am sure that we can follow his example in many ways.

Lord Voldemort.

Damian Thompson writes: Lord Voldemort, sometimes incorrectly called "Lord Tom Voldemort" by people who don't know how to refer to peers of the realm, was a talented wizard. I knew him well in his childhood in Reading, when he was simply Tom Marvolo Riddle; he attended the same primary school as I did, before winning a scholarship to Hogwarts, and was a very clever boy indeed, coming second in the class (to me). Although a devout Catholic, he was strongly influenced by the Spirit of Vatican II, and this may have contributed to the bad press he received in later years. I blame Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.

Basil Fawlty attempts to mend a broken-down car.

Andrew Sachs explains: Basil Fawlty has received a lot of bad press, from those who see him as a bad-tempered bully. However, we must wonder whether with such a personality he would have been better suited to another occupation, for example, as a deacon in the Croydon area. In any case, having encountered both him and Russell Brand, I have to say that Mr Fawlty was a much kinder person all round, and he definitely never made nuisance telephone calls or tried to harass bank staff going about their lawful business. No, with all his faults Mr Fawlty was a kind and generous man, and he certainly wouldn't have written a pretentious "bookie wookie" called Revolution.