This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday 25 September 2016

Henry Tudor stripped of papal knighthood

The news from 1533.

Henry Tudor, the king and former Catholic apologist, has been stripped of his papal knighthood following his reception into the Anglican church. Tudor, whose book Why Catholics are right brought him into favour with Pope Leo X a dozen years ago, also won the coveted Fidei Defensor award, which he is so far refusing to return.

Michael Coren

Henry Tudor celebrating "pride".

Tudor's main disagreement with the Catholic Church seems to be over its moral teachings, which, if he had been paying attention, he might have known about from the start. He has recently published a book celebrating his apostasy, with the title Epiphany. It is thought that he chose the title because Epiphany is naturally associated with gold, frankincense and myrrh, and Tudor is expecting to receive large quantities of loot from the sales of his book.

Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot, also stripped of a papal knighthood.

It is thought that the first person to be stripped of a papal knighthood was Mr Judas Iscariot, who spectacularly fell out with Pope Peter. Although he had the grace to return his 30 pieces of silver, he maintained until the end that he was entitled to use the "Apostle" title, if not the label "Saint". Moreover, his book Why Christ is right (popularly known as the Gospel of Judas) was highly-regarded at one time, although these days people prefer to read Michael Coren's works.

Saturday 24 September 2016

Pope puts world on journalism alert

Police worldwide have declared a state of red alert, after Pope Francis, in an audience with, er, Italian journalists, decided to charm them by telling them that journalism based on rumours and fear is terrorism.

Pope and Rosica

Fr Rosica explains that he never spreads gossip, rumours, or indeed interesting news.

Apparently, there is a genuine danger than innocent members of the public will be assailed by journalists, who after uttering a fanatical cry such as "Daily Telegraph!" or "Spectator!", will proceed to ask them what they think Amoris Laetitia means, and whether they think Pope Francis is about to abdicate in favour of Cardinal Tagle. Said Inspector Vincent "Vin of the Yard" Nichols, "If you suspect that someone may be a journalist, do not approach them directly, but keep your distance and dial 999. Our anti-journalism squad will do the rest."

Madeleine Teahan

Madeleine Teahan of the Catholic Herald. Wanted for gossiping about the Pope's pizza-addiction.

Said Anjem Choudary, the radical cleric sentenced for supporting ISIS, "These journalists make me sick. Take Damian Thompson, for instance. Rather than going out and slaughtering a few people in a train, like an honest man, he makes snide remarks about my hairstyle and my love of custard. No wonder the Ecclestone Square boys can't stand him."

Superman/ Clark Kent

Superman also has a secret identity as a Tablet journalist. Don't tell the Pope.

"Rumours and fear" is of course a direct reference to the reception given to most of the Pope's recent pronouncements. Did he really say THAT? Is he trying to change Catholic doctrine? Was he misquoted? Why can't he give a straight answer to a straight question? Be afraid... be very afraid.

Thursday 22 September 2016

Fr James Martin turns down prestigious award

In a surprising move, Fr James Martin SJ, the world's most prominent Catholic, has turned down the offer of a prestigious award from the New Ways Ministry, a group that rejects the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

Fr James Martin SJ, a known pillar of orthodoxy.

In declining to accept the Judas Iscariot Prize for betraying Christianity, Fr Martin was apparently worried that accepting it would have brought shame upon the Jesuits, an organization that has long been known for its honest teaching, straight dealing, and reliable theology. "We Jesuits have a reputation to keep up," he insisted. "It's all very well saying that we want to see a lesbian pope giving birth to children while occupying the throne of St Peter, but at the end of the day we must accept that St Ignatius of Loyola never actually expressed such sentiments."

St Ignatius, another known pillar of orthodoxy.

Fr James Martin has in the past been known for floating unusual ideas on Twitter, in a spirit of comedy; it is thought that the New Ways people may somehow have taken some of these seriously, and thereby got the impression that he was a rebel against Catholic teaching. For example, consider the following recent Martin joke:

Fr James has an almost Chestertonian gift for paradox.

Still, all is not lost for the Oscar Wilde de nos jours. He still has the much-coveted Giles Award for Comedy to put in his trophy case.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Protect the Beattie!

After the striking success of our Justice for Tina campaign, a few years ago, it's time for us to have another go at showing mercy (© Pope Francis) to Professor Tina Beattie, the world's greatest living expert on Human Flourishing.

Some people have been very rude to Tina recently, daring to criticise the dear lady's views, even suggesting that she put a sock in it. So much so that she is now a hot favourite for the 2016 Tony Flannery Prize for Silenced Catholics. She never stops talking about it.


Fans of Tina Beattie show their support.

However, Tina Beattie is (in her own words) forbidden from speaking in the diocese of Edinburgh and St Andrews by Archbishop Leo Cushley! This is pretty severe, you'll agree. Of course this is not a blanket ban, and Tina is allowed to indulge in limited attempts at communication: she can order her favourite Pizza à la Hans Küng in Tartaglia's Italian restaurant, she can buy train tickets back to London (and indeed is encouraged to), and so on. However, any attempts to tell passers-by her views on abortion, same-sex "marriage", or the wackier bits of God's Mother, Eve's Advocate are met by persecution from the Scottish Inquisition.

Nevertheless, Tina does have powerful friends among the episcopate, and they will rush to attack anyone who criticises her.

Cleese, Barker and Corbett

The patrons of our Protect the Beattie campaign.

Now, we realise that certain words and phrases upset dear Tina, and we are encouraging people to avoid using them:

• Jesus said...
• Catholic teaching says...
• Pope Francis said...
• Pope Benedict said... [YELLOW ALERT FOR THIS ONE]
• St Paul said... [RED ALERT]


Doctor? Someone quoted Pope John-Paul II at me!

However, the following expressions, which are essentially meaningless, are much more soothing, and they will cure her headaches, lower her blood pressure, and leave our Tina with a feeling of well-being and - dare we say it - human flourishing. So please try to use them as much as possible.

• Gender identity;
• Women bishops;
• Feminist philosophy of religion;
• Remaking the Church;
• Global sisterhood.

Sunday 18 September 2016

The Buenos Aires Directive

To non-Catholics The Buenos Aires Directive is probably just a novel by Robert Ludlum, he who wrote The Parsifal Mosaic, The Aquitaine Progression and The Icarus Agenda; but to Catholics it is a sequel to those popular thrillers, The Bergoglio Flight and The Francis Exhortation.

The Apocalypse Watch

Robert Ludlum predicts that the papacy will end in tears.

Apparently endorsed by Pope Francis in a private letter, the Buenos Aires Directive contradicts the Catholic Cathechism by allowing divorced and remarried couples to be regarded as validly married. We have seen a variety of reactions to Pope Francis's comments: which one do you agree with?

1. Pope Francis is a Jesuit, and so quite entitled to say what he likes and then claim that he was misinterpreted.

2. Pope Francis is a fine example of liberal Catholicism.

3. Pope Francis is just a silly old man who says too much and thinks too little.

4. Pope Francis is a heretic. Obviously not off the scale like those Catholics who endorse abortion and same-sex marriage, but definitely not as infallible as, say, Burke or Sarah.


The Eccles HeresometerTM for describing where Catholics lie.

Some people would say that these four descriptions are pretty synonymous, and which you use depends on your point of view. However, that is a little cruel.

Part of the path of "reconciliation", "mercy", "acceptance" or what you will, of remarried couples is that they should live as "brother and sister". Presumably, this means yelling at each other, pulling hair, stealing the last piece of cake, etc. Yes, that should work.

Brother and Sister

A model for family life.

Whatever else we say, it is clear that the Buenos Aires Directive is problematical, and Pope Francis would have been wiser not to have endorsed it. This time he didn't even have the usual excuse "I was in an aeroplane at the time and didn't know what I was saying". Now, you may argue that it is a valid interpretation of Amoris Laetitia - after all, nobody knows what that infamous footnote means, least of all Pope Francis - which itself is a valid description of what was agreed at the infamous synod - except that it isn't - and so it must be fully in line with Catholic teaching since popes never say silly things. But then we hit the famous words of Bishop Farrell, recently appointed Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

Words of Farrell

O.K. I admit it. I am confused. Can you help, Bishop?

Wednesday 14 September 2016

The suit and tie bloggers have lost

A special report by Damian Thompson.

It started at the Telegraph, moved on to the Catholic Herald, the Spectator, and ever onward: the demise of the professional "suit and tie" blogger, who was actually paid for writing his or her piece for a newspaper or website. For it was discovered that the "pyjama" or "underpant" commentators, who offered their services for free, had so much more to say, even if they were never allowed out of their bedrooms.

Damian Thompson and Princess Michael of Kent

"Would you care to write a blog for us, your Majesty? Any old rubbish will do."

Originally designed as learned essays on matters of common interest, in the tradition of Bacon, Swift, Chesterton, Orwell and so many others, the professional blogs gradually declined, as people were invited to read them and comment on them. Would Francis Bacon have written a piece on whether James I ate too much custard? Would Chesterton have criticised Cardinal Vaughan's haircut? Did George Orwell have a crush on Judy Garland? No, these were heavyweight essayists.

Eddie Izzard and friends

Scarecrow, Dorothy (Judy Garland), Lion and Tin Man in the Izzard of Oz.

In the end, it was not necessary to write a full blog post in order to generate the valuable "clicks" that so delighted the advertisers. A simple one or two-word title, such as "UKIP" (mysteriously written "Ukip" by the Telegraph), or "Islam", or "David Cameron", or - in the great days of "Holy Smoke" blogs - "Vincent Nichols", would guarantee pages and pages of mouth-foaming nonsense, as shelf-stackers, donkey-obsessives, drunken journalists, sinister deacons, bad-tempered Australian grandmothers, mollusc-molesters, implausible priests, and perverts from Stockport would tumble over each other as they rushed to issue insults, to suck up to the blog's author, to dump the contents of their brains, to explain why the Catholic Church was damned and they alone were saved, or to tell tedious anecdotes about life in Adelaide. Or perhaps it was just one person using an army of sockpuppets.

Of course, an army of semi-literate "muddlerators" was required to keep them in order. Sometimes the blog author himself was muddlerated, sometimes rival bloggers would drop in to join the fun.

Pope Francis and computer

"I see they've moderated my comments about giving communion to adulterers."

Curiously, the Guardian, a newspaper that will be totally forgotten by about 2025, took an entirely different approach. To write for Comment Shall Set You Free, you had to buy into the liberal consensus, where men could become female just by putting on a dress, where an abortion was considered to be every woman's dream, where Shami Chakrabarti was actually taken seriously, where a man could marry another man - or his mother - or indeed his pet hamster, and where Keith Vaz was regarded as a saintly character of irreproachable morals. Then, any comment below the line other than "I agree with you, Fr Fraser" (or whoever the writer was) was rewarded with instant banishment and accusations of "hate crime". But nobody read the Guardian so it didn't matter.

The fate of "professional" bloggers was inevitable. The best writers went off and wrote their own spiritually nourishing blogs, in a world where deadlines did not exist, the writer was not obliged to produce any old tosh if he or she didn't feel like it, and no money changed hands. Hence there were casualties among the professional bloggers: Fr Dwight Longenecker's family starved to death when his own blog was drowned in a sea of rivals; Fr Zuhlsdorf had to sell coffee to make ends meet; and as for that huge army of brilliant Telegraph bloggers - Thompson, Delingpole, Hannan, Hough, Mary Riddell no not Mary Riddell - they disappeared without trace. Although sometimes you may see Ed West selling matches in Trafalgar Square; he still wears a suit and tie.

Daniel Hannan

"You will leave the EU..." Hannan has a new career as a stage hypnotist.

P.S. Comments are welcomed. They're usually better than anything I have to say, anyway.

Sunday 11 September 2016

Walking with Incas

The appearance of Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez singing Rule Britannia while dressed as an Inca chief has awakened people to the realization that there are increasing numbers of Incas in the UK - two or three million at the last census - and they do not always assimilate easily with the indigenous population.

Juan Diego Flórez

An increasingly common sight on the streets of Britain.

Some people object to the Inca religion, the "religion of peace", because of its human sacrifices, although the more tolerant of us have learned to respect these cultural differences. It is a different matter with the radicalised Incas, who shout "Viracocha" - often on trains - before dragging away children for slaughter on a high mountain.

Peace-loving Incas such as Juan Diego will have none of this. "Of course, the Incan liturgies do require the occasional sacrifice, but for everyday "low" services, we tend to do non-human sacrifices - perhaps a teddy bear."

Paddington Bear

Some Incan priests slaughter a bear like this in the "Paddington" rite.

Pope Francis, as a fellow South American, is very sympathetic to the Incan religion, and has already had "constructive" meetings with the Incan Archbishop of Cusco, who has promised to slaughter a llama as a form of prayer for him.

Incan temple

Churches like this are starting to appear in our city centres.

So I hope that this little piece has helped to promote Christian/Incan tolerance, dialogue, walking together, and of course mercy.

Friday 9 September 2016

USS Enterprise crew praise Pope Trek on 1985th anniversary

The crew of the Starship Enterprise have joined the chorus of praise for the long-running serial Pope Trek as it celebrates its 1985th anniversary.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Pope Trek tells the adventures of Captain Francis, as he travels round the universe encountering strange new life-forms and boldly going where no man has gone before.

Pope Francis on plane

"Pope's log, Stardate 2016."

Captain Francis is ably assisted by his Press Officer, the Vulcan Greg Burke (replacing Federico Lombardi), whose job it is to find some Logic in the Captain's utterances. There is also an army of "red shirt" officers, whose main role is to stand in the firing line and soak up attacks.

red shirt cardinals

A group of red shirts, waiting to be zapped.

Pope Trek has developed its own range of catch phrases, which its fans love to recite. "We're showing mercy - shoot to kill!" is one; "The Church of England's attacking - there are An-Klingons on the starboard bow" another; "Damnit, Captain, I'm a Jesuit, not a religious man!"; "The Synod's broken down - ye cannae change the laws of Catholicism!"; and so on.

Pope and Rosica

In "The Rosica block", Captain Francis encounters a strange new life-form.

Pope Trek has been praised for its highly original plots, full of surprises, in which one never knows what the crew will get up to next. Says one of the actors in it, red-shirted Nichelle Nichols (Uhura), "My favourite episode was the one where all logic said that we should head east (Ad Orientem), but I kept insisting that this was too dangerous."

Pope and Morales

"Don't move, Captain, this phaser is the most dangerous weapon you've ever seen."

Jorge Bergoglio, the actor who plays Captain Francis, said today that he was pleased with the popularity of Pope Trek, and sometimes he felt that it was "almost real".

Kim Jong-Vin bans sarcasm

In the dictatorship that is the Archdiocese of Westminster, its ruler, Kim Jong-Vin, has banned sarcasm, because he fears that people only agree with him ironically.

This follows a spate of implausible compliments in the Catholic blogosphere, such as "Nichols - a giant of Catholic orthodoxy" (Mundabor), "Dude, Vincent Nichols has saved the Catholic Church by his rejection of the ironically foundational communicologies of individualizing syntagma that result from the concept of Kantian neo-structuralist progressivism" (Paul Priest), and "I wish my hair were as good as that of Cardinal Nichols" (Damian Thompson).

Vincent Nichols

"Go on, you're having a laugh, aren't you?"

There has also been a distressing tendency for priests to read out Pastoral Letters from Cardinal Nichols at Mass, prefacing them with the words: "Instead of a homily today, we have a letter from the greatest thinker of this age - or indeed of any age - Cardinal Nichols. My own humble sermon on marriage is as but chaff in the wind compared with the document in my hand, which will surely be regarded as one of the great landmarks of Catholic thought."

Likewise, when several faithful and learned Catholics who wrote to the Vatican asking whether Pope Francis could explain certain passages of Amoris Laetitia, "because it's all Greek to us", woke to find horses' heads in their beds, they laughingly shrugged this off by saying that the Holy GodFather had "made us a doctrine we can't refuse".

concrete boots

"All I said was, 'Can we lose that infamous footnote?'"

All these distressing signs of sarcasm are now banned, at least in the diocese of Westminster, along with jokes about how God prefers priests to turn their back on Him when offering Mass.

So, it's agreed then? Vincent Nichols is papabile, if anyone ever was.

Thursday 8 September 2016

Uniform row in Margate

Over in Margate, a row has broken out after some boys and girls were sent home for not wearing the appropriate uniform. Said the Headmaster, Fr Tim Finigan, "I was just preparing to offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form when a group of girls dressed as bishops came in and offered to assist. I sent them packing immediately."

women bishops

Inappropriate wear for a religious service.

Fr Finigan reported the ringleader, 62-year-old Kathy Jefferts Schori, to her parents, but apparently the girl has always been regarded as "wild", and little could be done.

Worse was to follow, as some boys then took the place of the girls, and they were also dressed completely inappropriately.

men in silly vestments

No, no, no! The pantomime is at the Theatre Royal!

St Austin's, Margate, is generally known for its excellent academic perfomance, although discipline may sometimes be a problem. Our final picture shows some of the girls leaping in the air in traditional fashion, to celebrate their brilliant A level results.

women priests jumping

"I got A* in everything except theology!"

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Why we hate Mother Teresa

Exclusive to the Independent, the Guardian, the Carpet-chewers' Gazette and all other liberal papers.

So the Catholic Church has chosen to ignore the description given by the great Christopher Hitchens - "a lying, thieving Albanian dwarf" - and canonize one of the most evil women of the 20th Century. Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu was her real name, but she chose to hide under the alias of "Mother Teresa", even though she had no children and was not called Teresa at all.

How I hate that woman. She opposed a woman's right to choose to dismember her unborn child (when Hitchens asked her if she had any "baby parts" for sale, she looked at him in total disbelief). She never spoke up for same-sex marriage, incest, polygamy and orgies in tanks of olive oil, which are now accepted by all mainstream orthodox secularists. As for transgender awareness, she still lived in the dark ages when they had sexist labels such as "male" and "female" - and "Mother" of course! Teresa even attended Catholic Church services, as if she actually believed all that nonsense about God. Sheeesh!

Hattie Jacques

Mother Teresa. What a horrible smug woman.

When the Catholic Church decides whom to canonize, it doesn't ask journalists like me to advise them. That's why you don't see such heroes as Marie Stopes, Che Guevara, Nelson Mandela and Hugo Chávez getting an expensive ceremony with lots of pilgrims singing their praises. No, they pick on some wretched nun who was not only undersized but also Albanian (well spotted, Christopher!) and give her the works! She was never invited to our Islington dinner parties, and serve her right!

Apparently, "Saint" Teresa ran some sort of hospital in Calcutta, but if you turned up asking for a sex-change, an abortion, or even "something for the weekend", she would ignore you in favour of some nasty smelly person with leprosy, tuberculosis or other socially unacceptable disease. No compassion for those of us who suffer modern illnesses such as acne, hair loss, or halitosis! Monster!

Life of Brian

Mother Teresa and one of her smelly old lepers.

She was a self-publicist, nagging people for money to waste on a bunch of dying no-hopers. She'd fly across the world to see rich people, just to embarrass them into coughing up some cash. For crying out loud, she could have walked, couldn't she? Also, she was too proud to use the traditional "get rich" methods employed by the majority of our readers, such as embezzlement, insider trading, and mugging people late at night.

Well, what do you expect of the Catholic Church? Pope Francis has been a great disappointment to us: he may have correctly identified climate change as the biggest issue facing us in this era, or indeed any era, but he puts God and Jesus a close second, which is a real turn-off. Mother Teresa was the same, so HOW DARE the Catholic Church honour her in this way?

Er, will that do? All I needed to say was that she was a Catholic, and so should never have been canonized, but I needed to pad it out a little.

Monday 5 September 2016

Conjuring tricks with bones

David Jenkins, Anglican bishop of Durham in the 1980s, has died at the ripe old age of 91. He will long be remembered for saying that the Resurrection was "far more than a conjuring trick with bones" and "not a single event but a series of experiences".

Kirk and Bones

Captain Kirk attempts a conjuring trick with "Bones".

Surprisingly, since Bishop Jenkins's death, many people have claimed to have had mystical experiences convincing them that David's life, power, purpose and personality were still continuing.

For example, Jenkins's famous remark "I wouldn't put it past God to arrange a virgin birth if he wanted, but I very much doubt he would", then considered to be somewhat inappropriate for a man paid by the Church of England to promote Christian teaching, has been mystically echoed by the totally orthodox cleric Giles Fraser.

Today Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, agreed to clamp down on "turbulent priests" by introducing a list of fundamental Christian teachings that they - and indeed all worshippers - were expected to recite in church without crossing their fingers, rolling their eyes, winking, or in any other way indicating that it was a joke as far as they were concerned. "I shall call it 'The Creed'," he said, "and there will be three versions: the Nicene one for general use, the Apostles' Creed for when we're in a hurry, and the Athanasian Creed for people as clever as that Catholic chap Fr Hunwicke."

Bachelors 'I believe'

Someone could even make a song out of it!

It is thought that such a "creed" may contain phrases such as "the Virgin Mary" or "the resurrection of the dead", in order to weed out the unsaved.

Although I, Eccles, never met Bishop Jenkins, I did a long time ago meet Bishop John "Honest to God" Robinson, another famous Anglican liberal. Robinson had managed to anticipate Mother Tina Beattie by describing sex as "an act of holy communion" in the trial that tried to ban Lady Chatterley's Lover (he was defending the book). Actually, Mother Tina's own book describes Holy Communion as an act of homosexual sex, but Robinson did do his best to shock people, given that homosexuality wasn't invented until the late 1960s.

John Robinson was famous for pointing out that God is not an old man living on a cloud, which was another of the brilliant scientific discoveries of the 1960s. My most interesting conversation with him involved a planned Lake District Trip; he quoted to me the saying "Choose your companions carefully, you may have to eat them" from Sellar and Yeatman's And now all this. I duly followed his advice.

choose your companions carefully

Choose your companions carefully...

In the end our bishop-less expedition climbed Scafell Pike, and I discovered God sitting on a cloud at the top. Which only goes to show that bishops don't know everything.