This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Saturday 31 December 2016

Holy Father expected to resign soon

This may shock some readers, but the man revered by millions of Catholics as their leader - the person who tells them what to think - is now expected to move on to another job before long.

Things began to unravel for him a month or two ago, when it was clear that he refused to regard the communist tyrant Fidel Castro as simply a brutal dictator, and went from bad to worse when he became involved in the storm over Amoris Laetitia.

Pope, Ivereigh, Valero

SInging "The Holy and the Ivereigh" together.

Yes, Austen Hercules Ivereigh, the Holy Father of Catholic Voices (expected to merge soon with its rivals Anglican Waffles, Muslim Screamings and Secular Spleens), is getting further and further out on a limb, and will surely drop off soon to take a cushy job as Pope Francis's confidant, odd-job man and assistant wielder of the Spadarine sockpuppets.

Some say he jumped the shark when he referred to critics of Amoris Laetitia as dissenters, urging Pope Francis to break with Catholic tradition and ignore the four cardinals' dubia. Others say that this was a mere training leap - over a mackerel, say - and that he was really saving his athletic exploits for an attack on the Polish Church: their fault, roughly speaking, is that they are unhappy at the way Pope Francis contradicts the teachings of their own Pope St John-Paul, not to mention the 260-odd previous popes, the apostles, and a certain Jesus Christ of whom some theologically-expert readers may have heard.

Vincent Nichols and a girl dressed as a shark

VIncent Nichols learns about the liberal sport of shark-jumping.

Well, we shall miss Uncle Austen if he retires to Rome in order to give the pope a helping hand, but from here he doesn't have many options. Either he has to come out with more and more ludicrous statements ("Why Fidel should be canonized," "Bring back torture for Cardinal Burke," or "52% of Catholics are literally Satan"?) or (unlikely) tell us the answers to the dubia so that we can all get back to being holy people again, or shut up for a few months and write "Pope Francis Volume 2 - the Vatican Strikes Back", or... well do something else.

Meanwhile, Austen has not yet answered our 5 yes/no dubia: Are you off your head? Do you need a lie down? Are you serious? Did you really say THAT? and Have you been hacked?

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Father Boff is coming to town

Yes, it's the time of year when that strange white-bearded old man, traditionally dressed in red, and in whom most grown-ups don't believe, is said to come down your chimney and leave you gifts.

Leonardo Boff

Father (well, ex-Father) Boff.

Yes, Leonardo Boff is well known for giving surprises to Catholics. Benedict, 89, is one who gave up believing in Boff when he found little packets of Marxism and Liberation Theology on his doorstep, which are well-known to be lethal if consumed.

Francis, 80, is less sceptical. Two years ago, he was given a CD of "Cry of the Earth" by the Gaia Ensemble, and last Christmas he was given a "Communion for All" game. Francis was apparently delighted with these gifts. This Christmas Father Boff is said to have brought him some Deaconesses, and even more packets of Marxism. What will he do with these gifts?

Molesworth Santa-trap

Two traditional Catholics prepare to receive Father Boff into their home.

Do you hear that strange braying sound, children? It's Kasper the red-nosed reindeer, guiding Father Boff's sleigh as he rides over the rooftops. Naughty children, like Raymond, 68, who refuse to believe in Father Boff, will not be getting any new heresies from him this year - so be warned!

Monday 26 December 2016

Everyone who disagrees with me is Satan

When you're debating religious or political issues, I find that insulting your opponent is the best way to win the argument. For example, the people who imposed same-sex "marriage" on us - something that ten years earlier everyone had recognised as absurd - managed to get their way by means of the powerful slogan "Bigot! Bigot! Bigot!"

Cameron and Clegg

A happy couple (now long-since forgotten).

On Twitter it is well-known that everyone you disagree with is literally Hitler. There are lots of 127-year-old Germans with silly moustaches sitting around in sheds, shouting hateful Nazi slogans such as "We don't think much of the EU" and "Er, perhaps Donald Trump is a better bet than Hillary Clinton."

Charlie Chaplin

Is this literally YOU?

Curiously, this is mainly a left-wing thing, and you don't see conservatives labelling people as Stalin or Mao - probably because for so many lefties, these mass-murderers are still regarded as heroes. So the insult becomes a compliment.

Morales, pope and abomination

"And this attachment is for hitting cardinals with."

So we come to Satan, himself. I must plead guilty on this score, since I have long referred to Mrs Clinton as Hell Cat, and regarded her as a tool of the Devil. This is mainly because I don't share her enthusiasm for dismembering live babies and selling the remains off commercially (this is what is technically known as "planned parenthood").

Still, there are apparently worse things that one can do. Pope Francis himself picked out what he considered one of the great evils of the world when he described parish secretaries as like "disciples of Satan" - we never got to the bottom of this little rant, but one theory is that he had decided to make one of his spontaneous 3 a.m. phone calls to a random victim, but had been told to get off the line, have a cup of cocoa, and go to sleep. EXACTLY what Satan would say.

woman waking up at 3 a.m.

"Oh Lord, I hope that's not the pope again.

And now he's at it again. Pope Francis told the Curia that resistance to reforms is inspired by the Devil. Since these reforms apparently include modernisation and gradualism (discernment), we have a problem here, as these are the sort of thing that previous popes were very much against. Odd, that.

Unfortunately, the Holy Father has now run out of superlatives. All I know is, I'm glad I don't work for the Roman Curia. Two years ago it was a listing of their "spiritual diseases" and now they're being told that they're ALL LITERALLY SATAN. Call this job satisfaction?

Saturday 24 December 2016

The 12 Days of Christmas

On the 12th Day of Christmas my true love sent to me

Twelve new reforms,

Eleven cricket-players,

Remember, the laws may be broken after appropriate accompaniment by a priest.

Ten new commandments,

Nine cardinal advisers,

Eight tips for family life,

Seven more saints,

Six new beatitudes,

All right, how many could you remember, even vaguely?

Five du-bi-a!

Four saved cardinals,

Three weird ones,

Popies: like groupies, but infatuated with a pope.

Two dreadful synods,

And a pope stuck up a gum tree.

A gum tree (pope not shown).

Thursday 22 December 2016

Pope Francis moves to Avignon

January 7th 2017, St Raymond of Penyafort, Patron Saint of Canon Lawyers.

St Raymond of Penyafort

St Raymond of Penyafort

Not one of my favourite saints: for some reason canonists called Raymond tend to upset me. Anyway, at dawn my servant Spadaro (whose duties include a little light cleaning, cooking, and insult-writing, and who feeds the papal sockpuppets) rushed into my humble chambers brandishing a letter from Raymond, Cardinal Burke.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Following your lack of response to our five dubia, we have the honour of informing you that Amoris Laetitia is an heretical document, and you are therefore officially in schism with the Catholic Church. Your title henceforth is Antipope Francis, and your Twitter handle @antipontifex. I enclose a plane ticket to Avignon, where spacious rooms at the Hotel Héretique have been booked for you.

papal palace, Avignon

The Hotel Héretique - Michelin gives it 5 stars.

In due course, we shall be electing a new pope to replace you - with luck it will be me, Pell, or Sarah - and definitely not Cupich, Nichols or Farrell - so please leave the apartments as you would wish to find them. Please make sure that you take Spadaro with you.

Yours ever,

P.S. You passed on five questions. The answers were NO, YES, YES, YES and YES.

"Mutiny!" I cried. "Call the Swiss Guard!"

"They've all resigned," said Spadaro. "All we've got to replace them is Austen Ivereigh in his pyjamas, armed with a garden rake."

Austen Ivereigh

The Antipope's English Guard

"Ivereigh? I remember him. Didn't he write Pope Francis, the Great Dictator? He's remained faithful to me? I'm touched."

Well, it was time to get up, once I had consulted the enneagram to help me decide on my actions: 8: today you will take a long journey, and embark on a new exciting career. Beware a man with the initial R.

Obviously, as an Antipope, I was no longer supposed to wear white, so I put on black vestments, packed a suitcase, and headed for the airport, accompanied by my faithful servants.

Pope Francis

So farewell, then?

Apparently it's not a bad life being an Antipope - I shall still be able to insult Catholic bishops, priests, deacons and worshippers, to attend Lutheran services, and to write Apostolic Anti-Exhortations. Feeling lucky, are we, Burke? We'll see who gets the most attention!

Sunday 18 December 2016

Francis is Redeemed

As a blogger who endeavours to provide spiritual nourishment, I do regularly look at the writing of other satirists to see what the "competition" is up to. For example, Fr James Martin SJ, with his nuggets of made-up doctrine such as "Mary Magdalene was the Church" is a well-known star, as is Prof. Tina Beattie with her "human flourishing" that rewrites Catholic teaching as an over-the-top parody of feminism.

Pope and birthday cake

"And you say that Cardinal Burke's head is inside this?"

But now is the first time that I have encountered a parody of my own blog. Francis is Redeemed is clearly a spoof of "Eccles is saved", and very funny it is too, even if the author's name, Austen Ivereigh, is not quite as witty as, say, Fr Todd Unctuous or Archdruid Eileen.

Francis is Redeemed was written to celebrate the 80th birthday of the pope, and presented as if it were a genuine piece by the official hagiographer of the 2nd most powerful Catholic in the world (after Antonio Spadaro).

It is very tongue-in-cheek, and you have to be on the lookout for the clever bits of humour. Apparently Francis is interested in the Enneagram - and, in particular, is an "Eight", like Fidel Castro, Ignatius Loyola, and Martin Luther King. Of course he's also a Sagittarius and a thetan of the twelfth level, but that would be going too far with the joke.


The Vatican has promised to purge all 5s from the cardinalate.

Then again, Francis is said to model himself on General Juan Domingo Perón, although presumably without the same fondness for fascism and love of torture. I must admit I would never have dared write anything quite so rude about the pope, but I am a mere novice at this satire game.

Yes, this new kid on the block, with his Francis is Redeemed blog, is writing some of the top Catholic humour of the day! Well done, man!

Bruvver Eccles, not an Eight, but a humble and dubious Five.

Monday 12 December 2016

The Vatican deploys its secret weapon

Over now to the Vatican, where the pope's advisers are struggling with a deluge of demands for clear teaching and an end to fudging. Their energies are spent in fending off polite requests of the form "What exactly is going on down there?"

Greg Burke of the Holy See press office enters, and asks vice-pope Antonio Spadaro for the latest news.

Spadaro explains that he is at his wits' end - they've tried silence, insults, and even threats, but nothing seems to work. The Holy Father is ready to "go nuclear" and excommunicate the whole Catholic Church, if nobody can find a way to resolve the Amoris Laetitia crisis. All solutions are welcome, short of actually giving the answers to the five dubia.

Dubia tee-shirt

Increasingly many Catholics are wearing this shirt at Mass. Stop it!

"Does the Holy Father have any new wisdom for us today?" asks Greg Burke.

"He's been leaking extracts from his new encyclical De Coprophagia, as well as an apostolic exhortation on clerical hats, but this doesn't seem to be doing the trick."


Get thee behind me, Saturno! Who would have thought that a simple hat was so evil?

"Then there's only one thing to do."

"You mean...?"

"Send for Ivereighman!"

Yes, mild-mannered journalist Austen Powers Ivereigh, known to most people as the "Mr Big" behind Catholic Voices, has a secret life as a super-hero. All he has to do is rush into a Confessional to change his costume, and he becomes unrecognizable!

Austen Ivereigh and Superman

When he takes his glasses off, Austen becomes Ivereighman!

With cries of Dissent! Roma tacita, causa finita! (Rome has kept quiet, so the cause is ended.) Move on! Nothing to see here! We have ways of making you love Pope Francis! Ivereighman sweeps down from the Ivereigh Tower, and scatters the pope's friends and enemies alike.

Golly, it's exciting when a mild-mannered newspaperman turn out to be a superhero! But even though Martin "Lex" Luthor is no longer considered to be the main villain, there's still a dreadful rumour that Cardinal Burke has reopened the disused Kryptonite mines on Malta, and will strike back...

Sunday 11 December 2016

The Tablet seeks a new editor

Yes, 2016 has proved a truly grim year. We lost Mother Angelica, Andrew Sachs, David Bowie, Terry Wogan (fill in your own names here), and now Catherine Pepinster is leaving the Tablet, or Bitter Pill as it is known to many Catholics. It will be hard to fill the shoes of the woman who brought you top-quality theology from the likes of Hans Küng, Tony Flannery and James Martin!

Pepinster and Marx

Mrs Pepinster interviews the last surviving Marx brother for the showbusiness page.

Over now to the Tablet offices, where they are in the process of choosing a successor.

Right, the first application is from Damian Thompson of the Spectator and Catholic Herald. He's promising us some hard-hitting Catholic journalism (all gasp), as well as in-depth analysis of the likely front-runners for the next papacy. Is Cardinal Sarah ruled out because of his bad hair? Is there any cardinal apart from Dolan who really understands custard? Burning questions, I'm sure you'll agree.

Also, which pope had the worst drink problem? Plus a stable of new writers such as Cristina Odone, Dan Hodges and Mary Riddell. No, we really can't accept that.

Who's next? Ah yes, Thomas Rosica of the Salt and Vinegar Corporation. He's a Basilian (of the St Basil of Fawlty branch). He says he has this wonderful plan to reduce the subscription to zero by blocking all the subscribers he doesn't like. No, I don't think that would work.

Fr Tim Finigan and the Tablet

A keen Tablet reader looks in vain for something Catholic.

Then there's someone who describes himself as "Father Z". He reckons we can obtain sponsorship from the Numinous Nun Coffee Company, and says he should be able to hit the "target readership" from 100 paces. Also, he plans to publish the newspaper in Latin. Well, we'll keep him on our list for the moment.

You know... this isn't really getting us anywhere. Did someone put "Catholic" in the job advert by mistake? For the last 12 years we've been trying to rebrand ourselves as a clone of the Guardian, and now they want to take us back to the bad old days. Does Amoris Laetitia mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?*

*Old Tony Hancock joke, adapted.

Oh, hang it. Give the job to Tina. She'll make sure the magazine stays firmly in the 1970s.

Tablet Advent Calendar

Personally I'm finding the Tablet Advent Calendar a little disappointing.

Saturday 10 December 2016

Pope Francis banned from Britain

Following the Home Office's decision to ban the entry of three persecuted archbishops from Iraq and Syria (Sharaf of Mosul, Shamani of Nineveh Valley, and Alnemech of Homs and Hama), who were invited to participate in the consecration of a Syrian Orthodox cathedral, it has now been revealed that a similar discourtesy was extended to Pope Francis.


The three archbishops, sighted somewhere near Calais.

This is apparently the true explanation of why the Holy Father will be visiting Ireland, the land of "Enda Life" Kenny, in 2018, but not the bigger island next door.

Said a spokesman for Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary. "We received a visa application from an elderly Argentine called Bergoglio, who admitted to being in rather poor health. We are concerned that he may wish to stay here permanently (apparently, he is currently living in Rome and finding things a little hot there), and indeed he may want to use our National Health Service, which is well known to be the best in the world. So obviously we turned the old man down, especially as he was clearly poverty-stricken, being still obliged to work at the age of 79."

Amber Rudd and policemen

"We've found this 53-year-old woman who says she's totally lost."

Said Vice-pope Grima Spadaro, "We haven't totally given up hope of getting a UK visa for Pope Francis. Following the advice of Giles Fraser, we are going to tell people that he's a teenage Muslim, as apparently Britain needs these more than archbishops. The trouble is, the pope is very bad at filling in visa application forms, especially the parts requiring explicit yes/no answers."

Pope Francis as Luther

Pope Francis adopts a disguise in order to sneak through immigration.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Fawlty Dogmas

In memory of Andrew Sachs, we announce a remake of the popular comedy show Fawlty Towers with an all-star cast as follows:

Fawlty Towers cast

An all-star cast outside the Vatican.

Jorge Bergoglio is Pope Fawlty, the proprietor of the Vatican Hotel, who spends much of his time insulting the guests.

Thomas Rosica takes the part of Sybil, who "can kill a man at 10 paces with one blow of his tongue".

Antonio Spadaro ("I'm sorry, he's from Messina") is Manuel, the hapless menial whose attempts to run the hotel in Fawlty's absence always go wrong.

The lovely James Martin SJ plays the part of Polly, the waitress.

Laurel and Hardy in drag

Polly (James Martin) and Sybil (Thomas Rosica) make a phone call.

We are promised lots of slapstick humour, especially from Manuel. For example Fawlty's urgent "Manuel, if you are asked, you know nothing about the Dubia" leads to Manuel's inevitable catchphrase "I know nar-thing!"

One classic episode is "The Germans" in which a party of German heretics drops into the Vatican. "Don't mention the Gospels!" insists Fawlty. "I did, but I think I got away with it." The Germans (Kasper, Marx, etc.) are not impressed.

Mr Greedy

Cardinal Dolan, a guest star in "Gourmet Night".

Another famous story is the "Church Inspectors", in which a party of four cardinals is reported to be in Rome, asking embarrassing questions, to the consternation of Fawlty. This includes the celebrated scene with the line "I was looking at Cardinal Burke, but I was actually addressing someone else when I said 'witless worm'."

Witless worm

"What is wormless wit?" asks Manuel.

Most catastrophic of all is "The Builders" in which a party of cowboy theologians attempts some reconstruction work at the Vatican, and punches a hole in the Magisterium!

Eccles rating: Did I like it? Yes or No? Sorry, I don't give binary answers to abstract questions.