This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Saturday 30 April 2016

The legend of Telegraph Blogs

From the Daily Telepath, April 3016.

It is strange to think that 1000 years ago mankind was unable to communicate by instant telepathy, as we do today. Historians tells us that there were miserable people who sat in front of boxes containing electronic equipment, laboriously typing their thoughts into something called "blogs", which were then read by other sad people, also sitting at (or at least holding) boxes. (Less "progressive" people read "newspapers", which were apparently produced by cutting down "trees" - a form of life that became extinct in the 27th century - and writing on them.)

The tradition is that the readers would then "comment" on the blogs: this was generally done by means of trading insults or (in the case of one commentator known only as "On The Side Of The Angels", but believed to be the then archbishop of Corby) writing incoherent essays, longer than the original article, on a vaguely related subject.

However, recent excavations at the remains of "London", the primitive city now known as Corbyngrad, have revealed a "cache" of "Telegraph blogs", which our ancestors tried to suppress in 2016.

Damian header

There is evidence that this man was worshipped as a god.

Looking at the writings of the Telegraph blogs' supreme being, Damian Thompson, we see some of the questions that concerned our distant ancestors. Religion was one such issue: these were the days of Pope St Francis I, who was not universally loved. He was to be succeeded by Pope Francis II, our own Vincent Nichols, who introduced "gay" masses and the writings of Mother Tina of Roehampton into the Vatican. Nichols is also mentioned in the blogs, although not in respectful terms.

Pope Francis

Francis I, later the first Dalai Pope.

Now, for us who live in the reign of Pope Richard XIX, it is odd to think that the saint after whom he is named, St Richard Dawkins, was in in those days a fierce atheist. However, Damian, whose prophecies were invariably correct, foresaw Richard's conversion and eventual canonization.

Dawkins before conversion

St Richard, in his "unsaved" days.

In those days something called "politics" was a matter of great interest. Nowadays, of course we are looked after by a benevolent Big Brother, who reigns in Brussels, chosen by a computer that telepathically reads our minds and finds the most suitable candidate. However, in those days the leaders were selected by voting. One such person, who disappeared mysteriously in the summer of 2016, was known as "Dave". For reasons that our analysts are still trying to discover, the big political issue of 2014 - according to Damian - was whether Dave consumed too much custard.

David Cameron

Dave, who disappeared mysteriously in 2016.

It is fascinating to learn of 21st-century culture from the blogs of Damian Thompson - cupcakes obviously played an important part in the everyday life of 21st-century Britain, as did the music of Gladys Mills (believed to have been a teacher of the great Stephen Hough) and the dramatic efforts of Dame Noele Gordon, a Shakespearean actress known for performing the play "Crossroads" which has not survived to the present day.

orange juice

Damian foresaw that orange juice would kill millions in 2025.

We are still investigating the Telegraph Blogs find, and attempting to make sense of it. For example, there was also a writer called James Delingpole who warned of climate change just 10 years before the New Ice Age began and Scotland was destroyed by glaciers (this seems to have gone largely unnoticed at the time). Also a man called Dan Hodges the Hermit, who was ridiculed for his always-wrong prophecies. Odone the Odd One, Lean the Fathead... yes, archaeologists, historians and psychiatrists will be investigating this find for years to come!

Friday 29 April 2016

Dear Polish bishops...

Oh look, your Eminence, we've been sent a letter written in green ink. It's addressed to "The male chauvinist pig bishops of Poland, c/o Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, Warsaw, Poland, near Germany, Europe, The Earth, The Solar System, The Universe, Space the Final Frontier."

letter in green ink

How the letter starts.

It seems to be signed by 97 concerned Catholic theologians, although some of the signatures are illegible, and some just say "X, Her Mark". They want us to withdraw our opposition to abortion.

There are some people I've heard of - look, a Professor Tina Beastie of Roehampton seems to be involved. You know what they say: Roehampton locuta est, causa finita est. It's going to be hard to stick to orthodox Catholic teaching if Roehampton's finest are against it.

Apparently, these people claim to be pro-life.

Massace of the Innocents

Herod was pro-life, since he only killed people under 2 years of age.

Any other names we recognise?

Well, there's a Professor of Moral Theology from Notre Dame. You know, the place that honoured Joe Biden recently. Could that be a misprint for "Immoral Theosophy"?

There's one here who simply describes herself as Maureen Crank, full-time troll, Altrincham. I think - it's hard to read the writing. Then there's a "hermit", writing from "5th cave from the left, Hans Küng Park, Nottingham".

Cardinal Nycz

"We must take these people very seriously," says Cardinal Nycz.

Ah yes, theologians, paediatricians, art historians, business trainers, the Editor in Chief of Spam magazine, ... oh we definitely have to consider overturning Catholic teaching when such people write to us.

The real danger is that some of these ghastly people may come and visit. We'd better let Fido out into the grounds in case this Beastie woman tries to drop in.



Tuesday 26 April 2016

Tina Beattie gives a lecture

Welcome to Roehampton, everyone! I'm Tina Beattie, Professor of Catholic Studies, and Director of the Digby Stuart Research Centre for Religion, Society and Human Flourishing. So I am a very important authority on the Catholic Faith, whose views are very influential in Tablet-reading circles.

I'm a member of CAFOD's Theological Reference Group, author of the best-selling God's Mother, Eve's Advocate - Comedy Book of the Year, 2003 - and an unoffical adviser to the Polish Bishops' Conference. You can call me ``Holy Mother'', as I am the nearest thing the Catholic Church has to a female Pope.

Tina Beattie

"And I have an extensive library of theological texts."

Now, some of you are here to study for the priesthood, some are doing degrees in Catholic Studies, while others are brushing up their Human Flourishing Skills. A special welcome to the spotty girl in glasses, who is doing a degree in Nuclear Physics and Human Flourishing, and the man with bloodstains all over his white coat, who hopes to get a B.Sc. in Human Flourishing and Brain Surgery.

blood on white coat

Time to brush upon your human flourishing!

In this lecture I'm just going to give you a flavour of the topics that we cover in this Catholicism 101 course. We'll start with my own Syllabus of Errors - a list of teachings that the Catholic Church has got wrong. Sometimes it's the fault of Pope Francis, sometimes they're traditional errors going back to the 12 Disciples, and sometimes we have to lay the blame squarely at the foot of Jesus Christ. Although since he was a mere Man we could not expect Him to be right very often, now could we?

Birth of Venus

God, by Beattie-celli.

Take Abortion, for example. Many female members of my class may find it helpful to have access to a safe and legal abortion at some stage - their children may not be so keen on being ripped to pieces, but, hey! you can't please everyone all of the time, can you? If you're male, then just accept that this human right is reserved to women only. I am still waiting to hear from the Polish Bishops' Conference about whether they consider the Catechism of the Catholic Church to be more authoritative than the teaching of a Professor of Catholic Studies with her own centre for Human Flourishing! Perhaps our letter got lost in the post?

Pope John-Paul II

Traditionally, Polish bishops know nothing about Catholic teaching!

Now some of you came here because you'd heard that I was an expert on mysticism and spirituality. I'll be teaching you the principles of circle dancing later, in a lecture called Knees Up Mother Tina! Others want to learn about the Mass, and why it is the metaphysical consummation of homosexual love. Well, it stands to reason, doesn't it? What else could it be about? Still, my book has more details!

To put it simply, this course should be seen as a quest to discover the primordial sacramentality of creation, with a particular focus on questions of gender, nature and embodiment. So, out goes all the stuffy old male Moses-Jesus-Peter-John-Paul all-boys-together Biblical stuff, and in come feminism, paganism, naturism (Lecture 12 is called Tina Bares All), and readings from the Guardian!

Jael and Sisera

It's Biblical, but we don't see it in Catholic Masses, even in Westminster Cathedral, do we?

Now, in this week's assignment, I want you to take some well-known Christian teacher - perhaps Biblical, or one of those boring men like Augustine or Aquinas - and rewrite his thoughts from a feminist point of view. Identify his errors, and explain how by changing his words we can argue for a female priesthood, with me as Archgoddess. Be imaginative!

Monday 25 April 2016

Michael Coren writes another book

The great Michael Coren has written the publishing sensation of 2016, and it will certainly put into the shade other best-sellers such as Pope Francis's Amoris Laetitia and Gianfranco Ravasi's So farewell then, David Bowie, Prince, and Choppers the Chimp.

Yes, the much-loved author of Why Catholics are Right, its sequel, Why Catholics are Wrong, and a further sequel, Why Catholics are Right after all, has dashed off a new book that will be published this month.

Coren's Epiphany

Why Christ was wrong and I am right.

At first, I thought that Epiphany was a new take on the Bible story. Three wise men from the East, Kasper, Müller and Baldisseri, make a journey to the humble stable in Essex in which the infant Coren is lying, and bring him gifts of cash, deodorant, and baby-powder.

If that is the case, we should look forward to Coren's Good Friday, where he suffers in agony - his evening talk show The Arena with Michael Coren being cancelled - and of course the impressive autobiography Easter, where Coren rises again (and probably becomes a Catholic once more). However, I may have got the wrong end of the stick here.

Three wise men

The three wise men on the A12, seeking the birthplace of Michael Coren.

Coren's had a good week. When Michael Voris humbled himself, and gave an account of how God had helped him to "go straight", he was instinctively showered with good wishes by orthodox Catholics (apparently Mercy is well-regarded these days). Meanwhile, the other Michael was clearly revelling in his discomfort. No doubt Christ would have said the same "You've repented of your sins, have you? You cheeky fellow!"

Well I haven't read Epiphany yet, nor do I expect to, but it's interesting to see that the most-hyped praise that it has received comes from Stephen Fry, that well-known sympathiser with Christian teaching.

Pearly Gates

Looking ahead...

The scene at the Pearly Gates.

St Peter: Ah, Mike. I see that in your lifetime you joined the Catholic Church six times and left it six times, you wrote 50 books, and you received the last rites from the Seventh-day Jehovah's tree-worshippers. It's not really enough to let you in, I'm afraid.

Coren: But Stephen Fry says I am saved!

St Peter: Who???

Friday 22 April 2016

Welcome to the Dolex

Welcome to the Dolex, where lies and falsehoods are buried under the carpet. I'm Timmy Dolan broadcasting on behalf of Church Indolent.

Cardinal Dolan

Timmy Dolan does his trademark finger-wiggle.

Today on Church Malignant we are going to expose the past sins of Michael Voris, because he's been a persistent thorn in our flesh - of which we have rather a lot - and is starting to tell people where the bodies are buried.

Yes, before becoming a Good Man, the notorious Voris was... a... Bad Man! This makes a complete mockery of my version of Christianity, where you choose between Good and Evil from the start, and don't attempt to repent! If you're Evil, you stay Evil, and rejected by Christ, even if you rise to the eminent heights of Cardinal!

Voris and Dolan

"These men are dangerous - especially the guy in the middle."

Some of you may say that my hatred of Voris is somehow personal. After all, he regularly tries to disrupt my St Patrick's Day Gay Pride March in New York, he doesn't think much of my attempts to open the doors of Catholicism to let the light of Secularism flood in, and he seems to think that Cardinals should be people worthy of respect. Well, we at Church Ignorant repudiate all this.

The picture below will destroy Voris's reputation for good. Perhaps he'll leave me in peace now?

Voris and Eccles cake

Voris in Eccles cake scandal. (Not available in England and Wales, owing to a court injunction.)

Eccles comment: In fact, I am blocked from leaving comments on Voris's blog, first for referring to Dolan as "the fat man", and then for complaining about the heavy-handed muddlerators. So I cannot say that Voris is totally saved.

Monday 18 April 2016

The Book of Brexodus, Chapter 2

Continued from Chapter 1.

1. So Cam-aaron urged the children of Britain to remain in EUgypt.

2. And he spake, saying, "Let us send out a letter to every household, telling the people why we should remain in the courts of Juncker the Pharaoh."

3. "But who shall pay for this letter?" asked his brother Bosis. "Wilt thou fund the nine million shekels from thine extensive offshore interests?"

Cameron and his fish

Cam-aaron followeth his offshore interests (fish).

4. "Nay," said Cam-aaron. "I have a better idea. Let the people pay for it themselves!"

5. Thus the Postman of Death came to each household with a letter from Cam-aaron. None escaped, save those who slew a lamb and smeared the blood on their doorposts; which is a form of decoration rarely seen in the fashionable parts of London.

6. Next, Cam-aaron enlisted the help of some old and wise men, Ash-down and Kin-nock, that they might send strange voices into the dwelling places of his peoples, crying "Remain! Remain!"

Terry-Thomas and the nuisance callers

"You're an absolute shower!"

7. Yet still the children of Britain hardened their hearts, saying, "If Cam-aaron, Ash-down, and Kin-nock are for staying in EUgypt, then surely it is wiser to leave?"

8. Next, there spake forth a devout and holy man called Nichols, he that dressed in garments of red and was considered a prince among holy men.

Vincent Nichols

The holy man protecteth himself againt the perils that are to come.

9. "If we leave EUgypt," said he, "then we shall face complex problems, such as the world has never seen before."

10. "What is more, it may hinder my chances of exchanging my garments of red for garments of white, and of changing my name to Francis the second!"

11. And the Catholicites mocked him, saying, "Hath thine Eminence ever been right about anything?"

12. Finally, out spake Gideon, also known as George, he who was responsible for the treasury, saying, "If ye leave EUgypt, then shall ye become poor, living on the scraps under the rich man's table, where the dogs will come and lick your sores."

Dives and Lazarus

"Woe is me. Would that I had remained in EUgypt!"

13. However, the words of Gideon were consumed with a grain of salt, since the Labourites and Libdemites with whom he was allied had spent six long years telling the world how useless his predictions were.

14. Still, in the interests of balance, we must mention that some of the allies of Bosis, they that wished to flee EUgypt, were equally wondrous. For apart from Bosis himself, they included Galloway the cat-impersonator and Fraser the comedy vicar.

15. In the words of the prophet, "Is it not a funny old world?"

Continued in Chapter 3.

Sunday 17 April 2016

How to be a Good Pope 3

We continue our helpful guide for the use of readers of this blog who may find themselves sitting in the Chair of St Peter: however, this is probably not more than two or three of you, and not at the same time.

In Part 1 and Part 2 we told the story so far:

Three years ago you were elected Pope, and decided to take a papal name that had never been used before. Accordingly, you became the first Pope Bosco, named after your favourite saint.

St John Bosco

A saved person.

Last year, you announced an Extraordinary Year of Hospitality (this being one of the Jesuit Works of Mercy), and - under pressure from some of your more liberal cardinals - a Synod on False Witness, to help decide whether compulsive liars should be allowed to take communion. The problem of course is that many politicians, lawyers, journalists and Jesuits - who are paid to tell lies - feel excluded from the Catholic Church. The Synod was a great success, and six months later only three of the bishops who took part are still in intensive care.

Victorian hospital

The Baldisseri Ward for synod-related injuries.

So now you have decided to write an Apostolic Exhortation to summarise teaching on the subject. Let's give it a catchy title, so that search engines will find it when people are looking for online porn: Appassionata Erotica? Mulier Voluptua? I'm sure that Up Pompeii! and the Carry on films will give you some ideas here.

Now, think about the length: St John's Gospel is about 15K words, but of course nobody is going to read St John once your own Rara et Curiosa hits the airport bookstalls. I suggest you go for about 60K words, which is the length of the longest Agatha Christie whodunnits. This comparison is well chosen, as your own work will also be a mystery, and many bits of the plot will remain unresolved.

Agatha Christie story

Surely, "Why didn't they ask Heaven?"?

Now writing 60K words may seem like a tall order, but you can quote extensively from papal encyclicals, Vatican II documents, and even perhaps the Bible. There is no need to be concise, to stick to the point, or even to have any particular ideas in your head when you compose a particular section - hey, the Holy Spirit will direct your fingers! Or if not the Holy Spirit, then the Spirit of Vatican II. Go for ambiguity and confusion, so that nobody actually knows what you're trying to say. That way, you are not likely to contradict any established Catholic teaching, and, if a future Pope comes along who actually wants to give helpful advice to Catholics, he won't end up having to condemn you as a heretic.

Dolan and the girls

A future pope, with some extraordinary ministers of Communion.

When you go out, leave your computer switched on so that passers-by with nothing better to do (the cleaner, Cardinal Kasper, Thomas Rosica, etc.) can add bits to the exhortation if they feel like it. Of course there is a down-side to this, because people may smuggle in footnotes that seem to suggest a complete rewriting of Catholicism. Still, if you are asked about them - say on an aeroplane trip - you can always say you don't remember, and you certainly weren't aware of any of the 200 blogs and newspaper articles so far written on the subject!

If things are going badly, it may be worth causing a distraction. We recommend either:

(a) Take an aeroplane trip. Pretend you are going to reach out to Lesbians, but instead come back with a few Muslim families. Refugees make good cooks, cleaners and cardinals - well, better than some of the ones you've got at present!

Bernie Sanders

Warning! Do not approach this man - he may strangle you!

(b) Get involved in politics! Choose a suitably left-wing and anti-Catholic politician, and have him round for tea and Eccles cakes. If anyone says that you are meddling in politics, then show a sensitivity for mental health issues by suggesting they look for a psychiatrist. This is a much more explicit insult than the usual "airport gnostics, leprous neo-Pelagians, existential parrot-Christians, Renaissance functionaries and pepper-faced tourists", which is how you normally describe your flock, but it will make up for all the vagueness and imprecision in your encyclical Rumpus Pumpus.

Good luck!

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Cardinal Burke accused of being a liberal modernist

The story so far: Pope Francis has written a 58,000 word blockbuster, Amoris Laetitia, which is soon to be a Hollywood epic, starring Laetitia Casta. However, the reception has been very mixed...

Laetitia Casta

Amorous Laetitia.

We should perhaps recall the standard pecking order for papal utterances:

1. Ex cathedra pronouncements on doctrine or morals, usually accompanied by the sound of trumpets.

2. Encyclicals, like Laudato si', which settled once and for all the question whether, every time you boil the kettle, a polar bear drowns in agony.

3. Apostolic exhortations, such as Amoris Laetitia. Of which more later.

4. Off-the-cuff comments on aeroplanes. Moreover, if the flights are with Easyjet or Ryanair, then passengers are expected to pay extra if they wish to be given some new papal teaching.

5. Interviews with Eugenio Scalfari, especially if his hearing aid wasn't working properly and he has lost his notes.

6. Tweets, such as:

@pontifex Come to communion. All welcome! LOL

pope in red nose

Statements made when the pope is wearing a red nose are not Magisterial.

All this means that Pope Francis's Amoris Laetitia is of rather more weight than some random nonsense about women deacons from Fr James Martin SJ, but less magisterial than a doctrinal statement on Father Zuhlsdorf's blog.

Now, reactions to the exhortation vary, but, if you are not sure whether to throw a wobbly or not, then here is a useful flow chart to help you decide.

flow chart

How you should react to Amoris Laetitia.

So where does this leave Cardinal Burke, once the hero of traddies everywhere, and persona not very grata with Pope Francis? Well, apparently he has refused to jump in with both feet and say "We're doomed! We're doomed! Pope Francis is the anti-Christ! We're going to be overwhelmed with people like Cristina Odone taking communion! Head for the hills! Where's my SSPX Welcome Pack?"

Instead, the great Raymond has said that the document is personal, that is, non-magisterial (a bit like this blog, come to think of it). The argument is that the Pope's exhortation is based on the 2015 session of the Synod of Bishops, which, as everyone knows, was a real chimpanzees' tea party.

Burke in Cappa Magna

Warning - this is what a nasty liberal modernist looks like.

Anyway, don't ask me what it's all about. I'm waiting for the film.

Monday 11 April 2016

What would Henry do?

Well, it's been a bit of a rough week for the Catholic Church, as it seeks to cope with the Pope's 58,000-word answer to Finnegan's Wake, but let's spare a thought for the Anglicans.

This week Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, discovered that the Father of his Church was not Jesus, as he had originally supposed, but the well-known medieval king, composer, tennis-player, and bon viveur, Henry VIII.

Henry VIII

The defender of the faith.

Those of us who try to live by the maxim "What would Jesus do?" find life difficult enough as it is (perhaps it was a mistake for me to charge into the cathedral with a rope of knotted cords), but living one's life by "What would Henry do?" is also likely to be problematical.

Still, it resolves the problem of divorce and remarriage, which is so vexing the Catholics. Already Anglican clergy can divorce and remarry without any problems, and indeed some of the country's most famous Anglicans have done it. For disposing of second wives, divorce is not a permitted option, but, as Henry showed us, beheading is the best way out. I do hope that Camilla and the second Mrs Giles Fraser are aware of this.

Another good "WWHD" moment occurrs in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Anglican Church does its best to commit similar vandalism, for example in ripping out pews from its churches, and making the places as ugly as possible, but of course, they are not alone in this. Clearly, one does need extra space for clowns, puppets, and dancing, and this can best be produced by getting rid of the worshippers.

church shop

The next step - a totally dissolved church.

In these ecumenical days, burning people whose beliefs we disagree with - or even simply hanging and disembowelling them - is merely an aspiration rather than standard church policy, but a weakening of "WWHD" was only to be expected when they allowed liberals to dictate the agenda of the Anglican church. As G.K. Chesterton put it, "The Henrician ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried."

Thomas More

Some people are simply clueless! A failed Anglican.

Saturday 9 April 2016

Amoris Laetitia - what you missed

9451. Traditionally, the ideal family consists of a man, a woman, 2.4 children, a dog, a cat, and a hamster. In that case, we should take a moment to consider the suffering endured by the odd 0.4 of a child - why is he taunted by cries of "He's not all there, you know!"?

There are many ways that a married couple can show their love for each other. For example, a morning kiss may be appropriate. For those who find this too difficult, they may wish to share in the household chores, such as power-hosing the television, throwing the cat out of the window, or bathing the hamster.

Fr Jack Hackett SJ

Fr J. Hackett S.J. explains that loving relationships can be very varied.

Of course other models of family life are possible. In the parable of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Our Lord tells the tale of what some might call a "dysfunctional" family, with one woman and seven small men. It is important that Catholics treat such non-standard families with love and mercyTM, and do not, for example, send them poisoned apples.

9452. Now is a good time for me to insert a dig at Father Thomas Rosica, who has been a complete pain in recent months.

Rosica block

Only joking, Tom!

9453. The good news for all of us is that, as the Gospel explains, everyone shall be saved. Good and Evil are a matter of personal choice, or "conscience"; that is why it would be inappropriate for this Apostolic Exhortation to mention sin, damnation, Hell, gnashing of teeth, or anything else that is not warm, cuddly and mercifulTM.

cute kitten

This is what Catholicism is really about.

9454. Now I know that many of you want answers to the following questions:

1. Is the Pope still a Catholic?
2. Should divorced and remarried couples be allowed to take communion?
3. Do we still burn heretics?

Confession should no longer involve torture.

Well, I am unwilling to give clear answers to these questions, so I suggest you read this document slowly and carefully - which is ironic as it was dashed off in a coffee break, and not properly checked - and maybe you will find some answers. I certainly couldn't.

9455. There will be another Synod next year, where we wheel out all the usual suspects to tell us what my Amoris Laetitia actually means. See you there!

Friday 1 April 2016

Pope's April Fool's joke falls flat

Pope Francis is said to be "fuming with rage" after this year's official April 1st joke (a long-standing tradition among popes) was released on March 31st, and was therefore taken seriously.

According to the spoof announcement, the Pope's apostolic exhortation based on the Synod on the Family was to be called "Amoris Laetitia" ("The joy of making love" - in itself an obvious give-away), and to be presented by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, and "a very nice couple I met in the pub" called Francesco and Giuseppina Miano.

Sad Pope Francis

When a joke misfires...

"Do you really think I'd trust Baldisseri near my apostolic exhortation?" asked Francis angrily. "He's been manipulating the synod ever since it started, and he still hasn't explained what he did with all those books that went missing."

There is a rumour that Baldisseri hid several hundred copies of the book in the attic above his bedroom, and one night they all fell through onto him when he was sleeping in bed...

pile of books

Cardinal Baldisseri's attic, before the great collapse.

"And then Schönborn? Schönborn? The man whose own diocese is a basket-case of heresy and dissent?" continued Pope Francis. "Well, I tried to think of someone ludicrous to accompany Baldisseri, but Kasper's started talking to trees and Danneels is preparing to go in hiding, so I thought that suggesting a man who blesses homosexual partnerships would bring the house down!"

balloon Mass

Cardinal Schönborn's Flying Circus.

"Then I added Sid and Doris Bonkers - or whatever their names are - just to make things look a little more plausible," concluded the Pope. "Someone suggested 'Kieran Conry and partner', but that was a step too far."

As a result of the announcement's being made on March 31st, rather than April 1st, it is being taken seriously by the Catholic Church, and Pope Francis fears it is too late to rescind it. "Still, I've got another good joke for April 2017," he concluded cheerfully.

Pope Francis laughing

Pope Francis thinking about next year's April Fool's joke.

Protect the Pope allowed to resume

After two years of "voluntary" suspension, it is reported that Deacon Nick Donnelly's highly popular Protect the Pope blog is to restart operations. Older readers will remember that Deacon Nick was ordered by his bishop, Michael Campbell of Lancaster, to cease (voluntarily) from providing spiritual nourishment to the world, and instead withdraw for a period of prayer and reflection. Faithful to the Spirit of Humpty Dumpty, "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean," +Mike explained that this did not mean that he had shut down Protect the Pope.

Apparently, bishops themselves have no need to spend time in prayer and reflection, for the bishop's own hard-hitting blog continues to flourish, and is regarded as the best place on the Internet to find pictures of a bishop having tea with nuns.

Michael Campbell reading Protect the Pope blog

Michael Campbell is lost in admiration.

According to reports, Bishop Campbell has been a guilty, tortured person ever since he didn't close down Protect the Pope. For two years he has lain awake at nights, thinking of the deacon he wronged. Although he tried reading the works of Tina Beattie, Timothy Radcliffe and even Michael Coren, he still found it difficult to get to sleep. In vain he tried to atone by saintly actions such as giving St. Walburge's church, Preston, to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and by rebuking the dissident group ACTA, but the one great wrong he had committed (or not committed) remained unrighted.

We are currently enjoying the Year of Mercy, and this also seems to have pushed Michael Campbell in the direction of a reprieve for PtP. After all, nobody wants to go down in history as "Mike the Merciless", least of all a bishop.

Ming the Merciless

Flash Gordon's Ming the Merciless. Unpopular in the Catholic Church this year.

Since Deacon Donnelly's voluntary suspension in 2014, the Catholic Church has been effectively rudderless. Pope Francis himself has been unwilling to give coherent moral leadership, except on rare occasions, and, as for Vincent Nichols, well you "might as well ask the cat", in the immortal words of Basil Fawlty. Now that the Superdeacon is back, it should not be long before the Pope is properly protected again, and the wicked are put to flight. Or something.

Protect the Pope shirt

New vestments for the Bishop of Lancaster