This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday 23 August 2015

Hackers set to reveal embarrassing list of names

Following the hacking of the Ashley Madison adultery website, and the embarrassment caused by the release of a large list of subscribers, it has been reported that the hackers (the so-called Impact Team) are now targeting the Tablet subscription list.

Tablet cover

Diversity is more important than Christ, with JOY best of all.

Many otherwise faithful Catholics have been tempted by the idea of having a "good time" with the Tablet, perhaps even going so far as to read one of its articles online (after all, it is said that Christopher Howse is slightly saved). However, it is widely considered that taking out a subscription to the magazine, flirting directly with the writings of Clifford Longley and Tina Beattie, is unacceptable behaviour. It is said that in many an allegedly pious Catholic home, copies of the magazine are delivered in brown envelopes, and conversations such as the following take place:

Wife: Your copy of Catholic Babes in Custard has arrived, darling.
Husband: Er yes, thanks. (Thinks: Thank goodness she doesn't realise that it's really the Tablet!)
(Rushes off to admire Elena Curti's latest craziness.)

Catholic babes in custard

A less embarrassing alternative to the Tablet.

However, if the hackers succeed in their aims, then they will expose many apparently-orthodox Catholics to shame and ridicule, and this may even lead to the break-up of families. Still, the Impact Team are unrepentant, feeling that it is only right to expose double standards.

We will keep you informed of further developments. Rumours going round Eccleston Square suggest that the Tablet subscription list may contain the names of several prominent bishops and other high-profile Catholics. We do hope that this is not the case - the Church cannot afford such scandals.

Saturday 22 August 2015

Pope Francis embraces the Spirit of Corbyn

As Jeremy Corbyn MP looks increasingly likely to become the next leader of the Labour party, support has come from an unexpected (?) source, for Pope Francis has put his weight behind Mr Corbyn's candidature. Given that all four of the candidates are atheists (or "agnostic" when talking to Christians), there is no reason why a Catholic pope should not make a free choice whom to support.


Jeremy Corbyn, with trademark cap and beard.

It is said that the pope is planning to trade in his zucchetto for the traditional socialist's silly cap, and he will probably want to grow a beard in solidarity with Mr Corbyn, for there are distinct signs that the Holy Father is sympathetic to the ideals of the MP for Islington North. For example, he picked up a most exciting Marxist relic on his recent trip to South America.

blasphemous cross

"Yours for 200 Bolivianos, Papa. It fell off the back of a lorry."

It has always been accepted behaviour for great religious leaders to fraternize with dodgy people (or "sinners" as we used to call them), and Jeremy Corbyn's links with Sinn Fein, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. are seen as a sign of his greatness. Similarly, the pope is not hesitating to dive head-first into the murky world of politics, including Argentina's obsessive campaign to grab the Falkland Islands and its reserves of oil and gas liberate the oppressed sheep of the Malvinas.

Pope and Malvina spam

"Will this get me back on Cristina Kirchner's Christmas card list?"

Let Pope Francis have the final word:

Some people have described Corbyn as a joke candidate, and totally unfitted for the position of spiritual leader of 300,000 Labourites. Still, it should be remembered that, although it is the duty of faithful Labourites to show respect to their political father, who is the occupant of the chair of St Keir the hardy, his words need not be treated as infallible except when he speaks ex cathedra on matters of party policy. If we understand that, then we can all get along fine.

Friday 21 August 2015

Giles Fraser appointed Bishop of Calais

Following his trip to the refugee camp near Calais, and his triumphant appearance on Songs of Praise, it has been revealed that Father Giles Fraser has been appointed to the prestigious position of Anglican Bishop of Calais.

Giles Fraser in Calais

The new bishop will also play in goal for Calais Eritreans.

Said the Right Reverend Bishop-elect: "For too long, our clergy have been leading a very comfortable life, spending much of their time appearing on Radio 4 or writing trashy articles for the Guardian. I intend to give a lead here, by living in a simple bishop's tent and devoting myself to those who are desperate to escape from France. Which is most people."

Le plod with tear gas

The gendarmes give a traditional tear-gas welcome to Christian marchers.

The existing church in the camp, St Michael’s, is Ethiopian Orthodox, and as such does not share all of Giles Fraser's religious views. "What the place needs is an alternative Christian viewpoint," says Fraser. "I appreciate that convincing the locals of the virtues of socialism and same-sex marriage may be something of an uphill struggle here. In fact, every time I open my mouth people rush away saying 'Sorry, I've got a train to catch'."

clown in Nouvion

"Allo, allo!" Giles Fraser encounters Brother Bosco of the Calvary Chapel.

So does this mean an end to Fr Fraser's media appearances? Well, alas not. He has already been signed up for Radio Quatre's daily intellectual slot, Je suis un évêque, je pense pour vous, as well as the comedy show Le labyrinthe moral; and he is expected also to write a regular feature for Le Gardien's Comment ça va? So no change there.

Wednesday 12 August 2015

I'm too judgemental, admits God

Following some scathing criticism from Mr "Andy" Burnham, who is a candidate for the five-year position of Leader of the Opposition, God the Father Almighty has admitted "Yes, perhaps I am too judgemental."

Andy Burnham

Only Andy Burnham is qualified to judge God.

God continued, apologetically, "I'm afraid I set up a system of right and wrong that was supposed to last throughout all ages. It took a man of the calibre of Mr Burnham to point out that the eternal verities had an expiry date of 2013. My plan to have a smaller, purer, Heaven, where only people who were by and large on my side could enter, was with hindsight a bit ambitious. It's a much better plan to 'dumb down' and lower the entrance requirements."

God further explained that the Last Judgement had been cancelled, and there would instead be a simple "Welcome to Heaven" party, to which all were invited.

falling into the Lake of Fire

Until now, voting for Andy Burnham was believed to carry certain long-term risks.

God did mention that everyone in Heaven was very impressed with Mr Burnham's words: My kids go to a Catholic school, so I still believe in the values and the grounding it gives you. We did not identify this paragon of education, but we believe it may be one of those new Catholic schools in which words like "God" and "Jesus" are forbidden. Certainly, the progressive view is that there should be no attempt to teach the basic notions of right and wrong, as this is something the children can work out for themselves simply by watching the BBC or reading the Guardian.

Mr Burnham had to read the catechism at school, and says it is powerful, strong and right. So it is right, but he disagrees with it. Yes, yes, Mr Burnham. Have a lie down, now. You've been working too hard, haven't you?

tied in knots

"Tied in knots? Me?" asks Andy.

Pope Francis is also offended at being described as "judgemental". Said he, "The one sentence of mine that people quote is 'Who am I to judge?' even if they take it out of context. Mr Burnham could at least credit me with having no judgement - after all, it's what my enemies in the Church tell me."

Sunday 9 August 2015

QUAERITUR: What do I do if my priest is a loony?

QUAERITUR: For the last 2 weeks we have had a visiting priest, while Fr M is away in Barbados (or it may be Grimsby, I don't know). This one started badly, with "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,and the love of God,and the consolation of the Holy Spirit be with you all." Consolation? Have we come to a service of Holy Consolation, then? Still, it could have been worse, he might have said "Confusion" (which was obviously in his mind) or even "Conflagration of the Holy Smoke..."

loony priest

A loony priest.

In the Catholic Church, the service books are there for a purpose. Consider the history of Bishop Arthur Roche: it turns out that, after all he was neither a retired figure-skater nor a cinnabon-addict (these were little stories invented by an obscure journalist called Damian Thompson). (In this spirit of honesty I must also admit that the claim that my Auntie Moly drank a bottle of Damian's hair-restorer was also slightly exaggerated.)

Back to Uncle Arthur. One good thing he did was to produce a new and accurate translation of the Missal, to replace the 1960s free-format fantasy on a theme that was scribbled down in a restaurant in the aftermath of Vatican II. The new translation annoys the Tablet, so it must be good. Now, if someone has bothered to provide a translation, and print it in a book, and if the bishops tell you to use it, you should at least stick to the text, Father.

Allerton Bywater church closure

+Arthur also got a reputation for closing churches. Not a Damian Thompson invention.

At three times in the service the priest is supposed to say "The Lord be with you." This wasn't good enough for Father Calamity, who insisted on saying "The Lord is with you." This is cheating, a little, as it invites the reply "And with your spirit". But he saved the worst until the end:

"The Mass is ended. Go in Peace." (Not quite right, but not too bad.)
"Thanks be to God."
"And thank you too." (WHAT???)

Pope Francis despair

A natural reaction at this stage.

FATHER E replies:

Well, there are several possible courses of action here:

(1) Walk past him as he stands outside at the end of the service, and say nothing apart from a polite "Good morning".
(2) Talk to him about his eccentric behaviour, politely pointing out that he should stick to the printed words.**
(3) Potter around after the service, lighting votive candles, until the priest has gone.

**In Anglican churches, remoulding the liturgy in your own image may be perfectly OK, of course. Still, I do know a Baptist who, after attending an Anglican service, cornered Rowan Williams and taxed him with some alleged theological error in his sermon. Good luck with that one.

You will probably find that (3) is the least likely to endanger your soul. If Fr M is still away next week, you may wish to try a different church. Of course, this is sometimes considered to be provocative behaviour, and may lead to Fr Catastrophe's leaving the priesthood altogether and buying a rainbow cat, but you are not really to blame here.

multicoloured cat

The sort of cat that may suit a wayward priest.

Saturday 8 August 2015

Piers Morgan elected Pope

A startling prediction by the pundit Piers Stefan Pughe-Morgan (I didn't make that up), commonly known as Piers Morgan, that he would be elected pope in August - see below - has come to pass. England has won the Ashes, and Pope Francis has bowed to the inevitable and resigned. The alleged alternatives, to have the papal phone hacked, to see invasive photos of himself in the American edition of the Daily Mail (Ed. P. Morgan), or to read headlines such as "SURRENDER! FOR YOU JORGE BELGRANO DA PONTIFICATE IS OVER!" were too much.

Piers Morgan tweet

The secrets of Fat-head. Mystic Morgan foretells the future.

For those Catholics disgruntled with some aspects of Pope Francis's reign, we can assure them that Pope Piers will be far worse. The forthcoming Synod on the Family will be replaced by a special series of Vatican's Got Talent featuring acts from all the leading clergy, with the winner being allowed to decide the question of Catholic doctrine on marriage and the family. Already, certain cardinals are practising their acts.

Kasper and umbrella

Walter Kasper performs "I'm singing in the rain".

It is also expected that Pope Piers will also take direct control of the Vatican Bank, using his undeniable gift for prophecy to make infallible purchases of shares that are will then increase in value. A special encyclical "QUOMODO PECUNIA TUA SALVATA SIT" ("How your money may be saved") will give financial advice to the faithful.

Cardinal Marx

"You are in my power." Reinhard Marx with his hypnotism act.

One thing that will not change is the papal habit of insulting people. Pope Francis is well known for this, and Pope Piers will maintain the tradition. However, it is feared that the new papal vocabulary will not match the subtleties of expressions such as "self-absorbed Promethean neo-pelagian", and be more of the nature of playground insults such as "idiot". A pity, really.

Cardinal Levada

"Not like that, like that!" William Levada does his Tommy Cooper impersonation.

Friday 7 August 2015

Scotland Yard investigates Moses

As part of the latest stage of Operation Yewsless, in which the police investigate the lives of dead celebrities to see whether they may have been sex offenders, Scotland Yard confirmed today that it was seriously looking at the Old Testament religious leader and lawgiver Moses. Naturally, most of Moses's alleged crimes would have taken place overseas, but there is a mysterious 40-year period when - according to scripture - he was wandering in the wilderness. This may mean that Moses spent some of this time in a British wilderness such as Croydon, Luton, or Dagenham. In any case the police are co-operating with Interpol on the affair.


Moses. "He gave me some strange tablets," said one contemporary accuser.

Moses is already under investigation by the Egyptian police for the crime of killing an Egyptian citizen (see Exodus 2). As they say round there, "Justice is slow but sure," and they expect to be ready to press charges within the next thousand years or so. But it now turns out that Moses may have done even worse things.

Some people are asking why Scotland Yard is wasting its time investigating crimes against dead people, rather than leaving that sort of thing to historians. Said Superintendent Grave of the Yard, "The alternative would be to use our scarce manpower for chasing modern criminals - burglars, muggers, that sort of thing - and frankly, it's much easier to track down and arrest dead celebrities. They won't be going anywhere."

It has been observed that some police will only investigate burglaries at even-numbered homes, a measure approved of by David Cameron (10, Downing Street), but not George Osborne (11, Downing Street).

Thomas More

St Thomas More. You can die, but you can't hide!

Following the publication of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, Sir Thomas More is now also on a list of people the police would like to question. "He may have already been executed on a trumped-up charge of treason, but that doesn't mean that we can't still make life uncomfortable for him," explained Superintendent Grave. "So far we have no evidence against him, other than a general impression from Dame Hilary's book that More was up to no good. Still, we cannot rule out the possibility that he was at the centre of a vice ring involving sex slaves, drugs, and hate crime. After all, he was a Catholic."

William Blake

William Blake. What were these "arrows of desire" that he boasted of?

Grave of the Yard has also tracked down the author of a familiar hymn about "arrows of desire", and identified him as a Mr Blake, now deceased. "We would like to question Mr Blake, as these "arrows of desire" sound very suspicious to us. We have also ascertained that Blake was encouraging people to sing "songs of innocence and experience". Do I need to say more?

The investigation is expected to finish some time within the next century.

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Robin Hood defends traditional marriage

Over to Sherwood Forest, where Robin Hood is addressing his merry men.

Well met, my friends, it is good to see you all: Friar Tuck, Maid Marian, Will Scarlet, and the rest. But we have been sheltering a viper in our bosom!

General shuddering... guilty looks, etc.

Robin Hood

Robin Hood watcheth a procession of heretics pass.

Friar Tuck: Is it I, my son? Didst thou not like the liturgical dance that I introduced into our most solemn Latin Mass?

Robin: Nay, Friar, although that was reprehensible, there is far worse to tell. The evil one is our comrade "Daft Markie", he who hath designated himself Mark Spencer, MP for Sherwood.

Little John: I never did trust that one. Why is he not here?

Robin: He hath fled unto the Sheriff of Nottingham, a man whose heart is as black as his own. He hath reported us for "terrorism". Even now the sheriff's men, they that are called the "Plod", are seeking to capture us.

Will Scarlet: Surely he is insane? While we support our noble king Richard, who fighteth the Saracen in the Holy Land, can Daft Markie really think that we are terrorists?

A failure of ecumenism.

Robin: Nay, it is not that. I will tell you a tale, although ye will scarce believe it. As ye all know, the words of Our Lord tell us that marriage is a bond between a man and a woman.

Friar Tuck: How can it be otherwise?

Robin: Well, Daft Markie hath got it into his tiny mind that a man may marry another man, or a woman marry another woman.

Marian (blushing): But surely that is a nonsense? Even Prince John the wicked hath not uttered ideas as shameful as that.

Robin: Aye, it is nonsense, but Daft Markie doth not like us to say so. He saith that we are terrorists, and that it is hate speech to teach the truth about marriage.

Little John: But marry, is it not Daft Markie that hateth us? Why is he not arraigned in the stocks as a lumpish, brain-boiled, miscreant varlet? Surely he is the one who is spreading terror?

Omnes: Aye!

Mark Spencer the wicked

Daft Markie poseth with his familiar.

Robin: Alas, it is we Christians that the world now hateth. Henceforth, we are outlaws indeed, and must flee into hiding.

Monday 3 August 2015

I'm a Catholic - get me out of here!

Following the news that Pope Francis sent a special apostolic blessing to Mr Declan "Dec" Donnelly on his wedding day, it turns out that the Holy Father is a long time fan of "Ant and Dec" despite not having watched television since 1990 (there is a special archbishop - believed to be Arthur Roche - whose duties include watching TV for him).

Dec wedding

Deacon Declan Donnelly and Alison Astall

The next step will be a special programme "I'm a Catholic - get me out of here!" in which various celebrity Catholics, including Pope Francis, Cardinal Kasper, Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal Nichols, Prof. Tina Beattie, Professor Emerita Margaret Farley, Fr Tony Flannery and Mgr Basil Loftus will be sent to the Australian bush, and asked to undergo various trials.

Pope Francis has commented, "Being surrounded by a lot of creepy-crawlies doesn't really bother me. It will be good practice for the Extraordinary Synod in October. But enough of my fellow-contestants!"

Dolan feeding his face

Cardinal Dolan practises with a few plates of pasta stuffed with kangaroo spleen.

Prof. Tina Beattie is equally sanguine about the competition. "I don't know exactly what the rules of the game are," she says, "but if it's anything like Catholicism then we can probably make up our own rules!"

Meanwhile, Mgr Loftus feels that he is returning to the true Holy Land. Indeed, he has written a hard-hitting article for the Catholic Times explaining that Jesus's ministry - if it ever took place - was probably conducted in Queensland. We tried to contact the editor of the newspaper to ask him why he regularly printed such rubbish, but the only reply was "That's our comedy column - didn't you know? Nobody except Dr Joseph Shaw thinks he's being serious."

Finally, Tony Flannery is not expected to perform well. One of the trials he must undergo involves remaining silent for five minutes, and he is expected to consider this an unreasonable challenge. "As I have told the Vatican many times," he says, "I will not be silenced!"

Cradinal Pell and a wallaby

Cardinal Pell, one of the judges, with a specially-trained wallaby.

Saturday 1 August 2015

Cecil the Lion to be canonized

The death of Cecil the Lion ("the most popular African since Nelson Mandela") has hit the world hard, and both David Cameron and Barack Obama have spoken out about his martyrdom at the hands of "Jihad Walter" the crazed assassin of DENTIS.


Floral tributes in memory of "the people's lion".

Even Elton John has been moved by the tragedy, and is hastily scripting the lyrics of a new song, "Cecil in the Wind".

Accordingly, Pope Francis has agreed to fast-track the canonization of Cecil, so that it may offically be recognised that he has taken his place in Heaven, and is lying down with the lamb, as (almost) predicted in the Bible - you may look up Isaiah 11:6 for the correct prophecy.

Pope St Leo I

Pope St Leo the Great

Lions have always been considered holy in the Catholic Church, and thirteen popes have been called Leo, starting with Pope St Leo I, who was canonized - he's the one who met Attila the Hun and persuaded him not to sack Rome. However, this is the first time that a lion has been proposed for canonization (it is said that one of the medieval popes canonized a hedgehog called Doris, but this is not completely authenticated).

Since his death Cecil has appeared in visions to several people, delivering an announcement from on high. Witnesses say that he uttered the sacred words "GRRR! GRRR!" So far this is message is not fully understood, and its interpretation may keep theologians busy for many years. Finally, it is expected that Cecil will become a patron saint of dentists, hygienists, anaesthetists and dental receptionists.

Lenny the Lion

A young priest preaches at a requiem mass in memory of Cecil.