This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Muslims offended by Fireman Sam

Following the bizarre incident in which the Fireman Sam programme was found guilty of Islamophobic "hate crime" after one character trod on a page from the Koran, other characters from children's programmes have got themselves into trouble.

Fireman Sam

"Sorry, I thought it was just an Arabic translation of Amoris Laetitia."

First up is Thomas the Tank Engine, where the introduction of a locomotive called Mohammed the Muslim Engine has been seen as a direct insult to the Prophet, especially as this engine is used to transport "unclean" meat, including sausages and bacon. However, the producers of the show had in fact made a special effort to appease Islamic fundamentalists, as the picture below shows.

train under wraps

Fatima the Express Train was made to wear a burka.

The Teletubbies, Messrs Tinky-Winky (possibly homosexual), Dipsy (clearly a heavy drinker), Laa-Laa (named after the atheist icon, Lalla Ward?) and Po (probably a coded reference to "Mo") are also in receipt of a fatwah, for embodying virtually all the vices known to Muslims.


Symbols of western decadence.

Finally, one more children's programme that has been deemed to cause offence to Muslims is the Canadian TV show The Holy and Blessed Coren, in which the hero, Michael Coren, tries out a new religion every week. Oh dear.

Michael Coren

"Read my book Why Muslims are Right!"

Monday 25 July 2016

Peter's Pence or the Mark of Kaine?

Many of my American readers have asked me, "Eccles, how would a saved person vote in the forthcoming American presidential election?" Apparently, the democratic process has produced a choice between a Republican regarded by approximately 3/4 of the population as a completely mad egomaniac, and a Democrat regarded by approximately 3/4 of the population as evil incarnate, whose actions and beliefs would even embarrass Lucifer. So you lose either way.

Frankenstein and bride

Two political leaders discuss foreign affairs.

Well, good luck, Americans, in finding someone to vote for. I suggest a write-in vote for the world's greatest American, Cardinal Dolan Burke.

So let's assume that Trump chokes on his wig, or that Hillary is escorted down to Hell by a demon. Time for the vice-president to take over! And now nothing can go wrong, as both Mike Pence and Tim Kaine are Catholics. Sort of...

Mike Pence is a born-again evangelical Catholic. Now don't worry if you don't know what these are, as Uncle Mike doesn't really know either. As far as we can ascertain they are Anglo-Lutheran Catholics with a dash of Aztec. It was so much simpler when Mr Pence was a simple (Roman) Catholic. At least he seems to be against abortion and same-sex "marriage", almost as if he were a member of a Church for grown-ups.


Actually, I think these are the Westboro Baptists. Sorry.

Which brings us to Tim Kaine. A "Catholic" educated by Jesuits; so obviously the usual suspects - James Martin SJ and Thomas Reese SJ - are delighted. He's Catholic, but not TOO Catholic, right? He reckons Jesus got it wrong on same-sex marriage. He is backed by Planned Parenthood, the place you go to whenever you need a freshly-killed baby. There's no danger that anyone is ever going to persecute him for his beliefs!

Kaine certificate

Probably a forgery.

Friday 22 July 2016

Welcome to World Oldie Day

As a special concession to Catholics who have passed the age of 30 and thus no longer feel that they count as "yoof", Pope Francis has agreed to institute a World Oldie Day. Since Kraków, the site of World Youth Day, is obviously too exciting a place, it has been agreed to hold the event in Eastbourne, where the population's average age is already over 70.

Listening attentively to Pope Francis.

Said one oldie, Fred Methuselah, 95, "I no longer feel able to enjoy the benefits of World Youth Day, including standing in a muddy field in the pouring rain with a large crowd, participating in special liturgical abuses such as obtaining my Communion from a vending machine, or even taking part in mysterious Jesuit events called "Ignatian experiments"; the W.O.D. is far more to my taste."

Ignatian Experiments.

For many bishops, attending World Youth Day is something of a nightmare, although many of them nobly turn up in order to support the young folk. "We're being very ecumenical in Kraków this year," commented one bishop who was putting a brave face on things. "They've got that young chap, Cliff Richard, doing a gig. This is what really appeals to the youth of today."

Bishops Dancing at WYD in Rio.

"Still," he continued, "it is embarrassing for someone in their 70s to be cavorting around like a teenager. I've been told that the WOD in Eastbourne will have none of that, merely an evening of liturgical ballroom dancing at the Kieran Conry Dance Hall, for those who really want it. Or there's Catholic Bingo: Laudato Si', 23! Letter from Joseph Shaw, 44! We're all off to Heaven, 67!"

Said one deacon, "One tradition that we're keeping is that of getting a flashmob of people dressed as nuns to do wild dances. We don't expect the over-80s to take part in this (except perhaps for the ever-youthful Cardinal Cormac), but some of us in our 40s and 50s can still 'groove it', as the saying goes."

Some of these could be mistaken for real nuns!

If you can't make it to WYD, then do join us at WOD! You can book through Saga Holidays.

Sunday 17 July 2016

Vincent Nichols spells it out


Dear Priests of the Archdiocese of Westminster,

You have probably read in the Tablet about a misguided statement from Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, suggesting that some priests might like to consider the possibility, perhaps, if it not too much trouble, and nobody minds, of maybe going so far as celebrating some Masses ad orientem.

For those of you under the age of 60 who won't have learnt any Latin, this is the Language of Satan's way of saying "with your back turned rudely towards the congregation, making it hard for them to take selfies with you during Mass".

Cardinal Sarah ad orientem

I'm so glad to see the back of Cardinal Sarah.

Now I wouldn't go as far as my mentor, Cardinal Kasper, who said "Blimey! Those fuzzy-wuzzy priests are getting a bit above themselves, aren't they?" but it is clear to me that my own opinions - those of a cardinal who is, dare I say it, papabile - must outweigh any ideas put forward by some jumped-up chap from the CDW who has clearly never thought about the issue.

May I remind you all that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal - which has come down to us unchanged from the days of Moses - explicitly says that the altar should be pulled back from the wall so that the cleaners can easily dust it, and this means NO FACING EAST OR YOU WILL GO TO HELL.

Vin being a Hindu

On rare occasions, facing East is unavoidable.

May I also emphasise that the celebration of the Church’s Liturgy is not a place in which priests are to exercise personal preference or taste - it is MY personal preference and taste that should be your guide in all things, even when people from the CDW say otherwise. I've even got the Pope on my side - well, I've got Lombardi and Rosica, and the Holy Father always backs up what they say, if he doesn't want to find caterpillars in his bed.

So I'm sure you'll all agree that, as your ordinary - and I have always tried to be as ordinary as possible - all matters of liturgy, doctrine, morals, and choice of football team to support are my decision and mine only. So belt up, the lot of you.


And my fan club, the Mini Vinnies, agrees with me!

Thursday 14 July 2016

Pokémon Go - catch those cardinals!

Yes, it's the new game that's sweeping the Catholic Church - Pokémon Go! The rules are very simple: scattered around the world are 212 funny little creatures known as "cardinals" and your job is to "catch" them all!

Vincent Nichols and Theresa May

Theresa May takes time off her busy schedule to catch the cheeky Nicol.

The Pokémon cardinals can turn up in a variety of odd places - some have even been sighted in churches wandering around in circles trying to decide whether to face east or west. The greatest density of the creatures is in Rome, but nowhere - however unlikely - can be ruled out. The Baldisseri was seen playing "Chopsticks" on the piano at the London Oratory, while others have been seen hiding (badly) among dancing girls.

Dolan and the girls

Another sighting! The tubby creature known as Donut.

To "catch" a cardinal, you need to go up to him and give him the "kiss of peace". This can be anything from a formal handshake to a full-scale passionate hug. But be careful! These funny creatures like to hide (except for some, who seem to be everywhere).

Kasper and Rosica

He's behind you! Old Kaspa hides from Pokémon-addict Thomas Rosica.

Pope Francis is known to be a Pokémon fan, but this is mainly so that he can keep track of his cardinals and block them from any liturgical practices that date from before Vatican II. Other celebrity Catholics regularly seen hunting for cardinals include Damian Thompson, Tina Beattie ("only 3 of the cardinals are actually women" she complains), and even Michael Voris. But the game is not limited to Catholics, and many others are becoming addicted to it...

Vincent Nichols and the Hindu

"I've got one!" A Hindu holy man joins in the fun.

Sunday 10 July 2016

Face East, young man, and dress properly

Two news items have dominated the press this week: one Catholic, and one Anglican.


A moral compass for priests.

First, Cardinal Sarah, the leading "stop Tagle" candidate for the next papacy, has reminded priests to celebrate Mass ad orientem, starting in Advent. This is generally regarded as the start of the pantomime season, and any priests seen facing the wrong way at Mass are liable to be greeted by shouts of "He's behind you!" So far we have not heard any disagreement from Fr James Martin SJ, himself an experienced pantomine dame, who is willing to face either way.

James Martin having a rave-up

"The Holy Spirit is female!" Oh no, he isn't!

Facing God is a concept popularly believed to have disappeared after Vatican II, along with Latin, Sin and Redemption, so it is interesting to hear from a Cardinal who is prepared to reject the Spirit of Vatican II.

selfie in Mass

Whatever else is happening, remember to take a selfie during Mass!

LATE NEWS: IN a letter to his priests, Cardinal Nicholas has explicitly disagreed with the Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. However, we think there may be an explanation.

Sarah and Nichols

"Do celebrate ad orientem, Vin. So many people want to see the back of you."

Over at the Church of England, the big debate is over what clothes the vicars should be allowed to wear in church.

bucolic priest

The Rev. Worzel Gummidge recommends the rural (scarecrow) look.

We recently visited Father Gummidge's Church, and heard a delightful anthem from Galton and Simpson, entitled Beta vulgaris in horto, which begins

I've got mangel-wurzels in my garden, 
I've got mangel-wurzels in my shed,
I've got mangel-wurzels in my bathroom, 
And a mangel-wurzel for a head.

Here is another example of Synod-approved vestments:

clowns and Bible

Protestant ministers (as is well known, Catholics don't read the Bible).

Yes, times are definitely changing. Our final picture of some Episcopalian bishopesses shows an example of quiet dignity. Church services are not there just for religion - they are also there for displays of fashion, and they give our costume holy women (and men) a way of recycling their old curtains!

wimmen bishops

True holiness.

Monday 4 July 2016

Chilcot report on the Reformation awaited

This week sees the publication of Sir John Chilcot's long-awaited report on the Reformation in England. In 1553, Queen Mary appointed Chilcot to conduct this enquiry into the circumstances surrounding the 1534 attack on the Catholic Church, but it has taken Sir John 463 years to come to some definite conclusions.

medieval monk with quill pen

Sir John Chilcot begins to draft his report.

It is likely that the lion's share of the blame for the action that led to the death of thousands and destroyed monasteries will fall to Henry VIII, also known as "Tudy". Although initially a very popular ruler among his subjects, and elected with a huge majority in 1509, Tudy is now universally regarded as a cruel and greedy despot. Tudy was aided by his sidekick "Alastair" Cromwell, with his famous claim that the Pope had weapons of Mass Destruction targeted on the Archbishop of Canterbury, and that they could be deployed within 45 minutes.

Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey was destroyed, but no WMDs were ever found.

Of course Henry Tudy has long since departed from public life, and is believed to be living a quiet life in retirement under the name of Brian Blessed. It is unlikely that he will be impeached for war crimes at this late stage.

It is generally agreed that the Catholic Church in England has still not fully recovered from Tudy's War, even after nearly 500 years. A succession of puppet rulers has been put in place - most recently Car-din al-Cormac and Car-din al-Nichols - but they have not succeeded in restoring the ancient glories of Cath-liq.

Nichols and Westminster Cathedral

Al-Nichols stands outside the Grand Mosque.

Sunday 3 July 2016

The Sockpuppets of the Vatican

One of the most curious cases that I ever encountered with my friend Sherlock Holmes took us to the eternal city of Rome.

selfie Rome

The Vatican!

"So, Watson, we have been called in to investigate how the Vatican City, which numbers a mere 840 people, managed to attract 42,000 signatures for an online petition demanding a second EU referendum."

"But Holmes, why do they want another referendum, anyway?"

"Really, Watson, that is childishly simple. They got an answer they did not like, so naturally they wanted to run the vote again. But we are faced here with the interesting case of the Sockpuppets of the Vatican."

"But the Vatican, Holmes? Is this not a crime that one associates more with dens of iniquity such as North Korea or Chiswick?"

Holmes nodded his assent, took out his violin, and played some haunting selections from the works of Paul Inwood. I hurriedly fled into another room, knowing that I could do nothing about my friend's addiction to bad music.

pope Francis and Baldisseri

"Now, Lorenzo, here is the list of sockpuppet accounts that you asked for."

When all was peaceful again, I had a suggestion to make.

"Could it be the doing of Cardinal Baldisseri?" I asked. "He is an experienced manipulator of synods, and maybe he has moved into other forms of chicanery."

"I think not, Watson. His hands are full with another matter. Following requests that the last papal conclave be re-run, on the grounds that the St Gallen Mafia had fixed it, he has been masterminding his own response.

Indeed, a giant petition signed by 42,000 cardinals - some with previously unknown names such as Cardinal Eccles, Cardinal Custard and Cardinal Biggles - has expressed its complete and utter faith in the election of Pope Francis. Baldisseri has had no time for other activities."

Pope Benedict XVI

Another suspect?

I then suggested that Emeritus Pope Benedict, who had retired from the Chair of St Peter, expressing the wish to spend more time in "praying, tweeting and checking up on spiritually nourishing blogs", might have a hand in the sockpuppetry.

"I did indeed consider him as a possible suspect," agreed Holmes. "After telegraphing to my agents in Bavaria, I even discovered that 'Benedict' is not his real name, and that he is known to his oldest friends as 'Holy Joe'. However, he was definitely otherwise engaged when the crime was committed. No, he is not the Napoleon of Crime that we seek."

Meanwhile, the word "Napoleon" had triggered something in Holmes's mind. "Watson, this is definitely a three-prayer problem. Leave me in peace to meditate in St Peter's Basilica - you will recognise it by the moving picture about monkeys playing on the outside - and we shall see if divine inspiration arrives."

After a restful doze through a three-hour sermon from Cardinal Kasper on "Why fornication is the new marriage", Holmes had a new suspect.


Fr Napoleon Rosica? Surely not!

"No, that's impossible," he said. "Surely there must be some other explanation..."