This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Friday, 16 March 2018

How to write nice things about a Pope

This is an instalment in our self-help guide "How to be a good pope", but is really intended for retired popes rather than ones still poping.

It may happen to you that after a few years as the world's holiest person you will decide to retire, in order to spend more time in prayer, contemplation, beer-drinking, piano-playing, reading the Eccles blog, and other activities suitable to your advanced years.

Pope Benedict reading a newspaper

"That's three heresies already, and I only opened it for the weather forecast."

Very good. The chap currently doing all the nitty-gritty pope stuff, such as writing ambiguous exhortations, insulting the ordinary Catholic, and praising Emma Bonino, should be left to tread his infallible path, now that you have decided to be fallible again.

But, horror! One day a pile of junk mail comes through your letter-box. It consists of a set of eleven slim volumes explaining the theology of your successor. What is worse, they want you to write something saying how wonderful it is.

Life is so dreadfully unfair. If the publishers had sent you Fifty more shades of grey, you could have sent it back saying that you only ever wore white; or if it was Building a bridge, you could have passed it on to some engineering friend. But theology is your thing, and you have to respond to the request.

Benedict XVI's letter

"There are many books that I shall never read, but these are the best."

Now, if all they want is a snappy headline for their publicity, then, whatever you write, they will be able to extract a phrase and blur the remainder. Your carefully-chosen words "When people describe Pope Bosco [your successor] as a brilliant theologian, my head begins to overheat" will be boiled down to "A BRILLIANT THEOLOGIAN", with the rest carefully obliterated.

Likewise, "Read these books? I'd rather watch the grass grow" will be edited into "READ THESE BOOKS". Then again, "I'm 90 years old, and they think I can find nothing better to do" will become "I CAN FIND NOTHING BETTER".

The moral is clear: write what you like about these books, and leave it to the boys at the Vatican to spin it whichever way they want.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Tributes to Pope Francis on his 5th anniversary

Five years ago today, a figure dressed in white came out on the balcony of St Peter's, to be greeted by enthusiastic cries of "Who the heck is that?" Yes, it was Jorge Belgrano Bergoglio, variously described as "St Francis II" (by himself), "The Dictator Pope" (by that rude 16th Century general, Marcantonio Colonna) and "The Great Reformer" (a bit of wishful thinking by little Austen Ivereigh).

Pope Francis, 2013

"I'd like to thank my agents, the St Gallen Mafia, ... and of course God."

Tributes have been pouring in, led by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, and we are happy to print some of them here.

Pope Benedict XVI: Ow! Let go of my ear! I'll sign anything you like! All right, here goes. Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation. I mean, look, I may have written over 50 books myself (beginning with the very short Theological Highlights of Vatican II), and Francis still finds that a colouring book is a bit of an intellectual challenge if they don't tell you what colours to use - all right, Fr Spadaro, I'll drop that bit - but... anyway, the theology of Pope Francis is like the theology of nobody else, and everything he teaches is in continuity with what went before, even when it contradicts it. I can't say fairer than that!

Pope Francis book

The Pope Francis colouring book. "I haven't read it, but it's very good."

Cardinal Burke: I wish Pope Francis well on his anniversary. To tell the truth, I never wanted to know the answers to the Dubia anyway, and Francis is doing a great job in keeping them secret. For clarity of teaching, guidance, and a perpetual willingness to answer questions, you can't do better than the Holy Father!

Fra' Matthew Festing: I was very pleased to be told by Pope Francis that I had voluntarily retired as 79th Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. This left me more time for my own hobbies of hunting, shooting, and fishing. I also take an interest in historic churches as well as my collection of wax dummies: these are all effigies of Pope Francis, so you can see how much I respect the man whose coup at the Order of Malta was almost entirely bloodless.

Mrs Mary McAleese: Our recent Voices of Faith conference in Rome, marking International Whiners' Day, was very successful, and it was a great shame that I did not get to meet you, Pope Francis. We sent you a letter of invitation but - would you believe it - you never read it! Now, normally I reject the patriarchal clerical hegemony of the Catholic Church - along with its teachings on abortion, marriage, homosexuality, God, Jesus, ... well, everything really. But I am a faithful Catholic all the same, and therefore I offer you, Francis, in the spirit of friendship, a short 94-page working document explaining how I will do things so much better when I become Pope.

Mary McAleese

"Also, I had to leave early as my husband needed some clean socks and a proper cooked dinner."

Cardinal Sarah: I have always preached the virtues of silence, and there is no better time than now.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

The Book of St Richard, Chapter 26

Continued from Chapter 25.

1. And it came to pass that Richard spake out on the subject of food.

2. "What if human meat is grown? Could we overcome our taboo against cannibalism?" he asked.

Dawkins dining

"No, it's not beef, it's not pork. Have another guess!"

3. For he had begun to tire of the land of milk of honey in which he found himself in his old age. Especially the honey, which his thousands of admirers sent him daily.

4. For Richard had cried out in woe at the loss of his favourite honey pot to the guardians of the port that is called Air. Which was all the fault of Bin Laden.

5. And now he craved the flesh of Man.

6. The lunch of the ploughman, the pie of the shepherds, and the stew of the biologist, all these he craved.

7. The toad in the hole craved he not, neither the rare delicacy known as spam.

Dr Who scene

A dish fit for a celebrity atheist.

8. And many mocked Richard, but other devout people supported him.

9. For the Ecumenical Episcopalian-Aztec Fellowship said that in a very real sense Richard was to be commended.

10. Moreover, the Hannibal Lecteran Church wished to feast with the great professor.

11. Indeed, he was even blessed by the Catholic Diocese of the Borneo head-hunters, who had been praised by the Bishop Sorondo for their social teachings.

Dawkins in jungle

"The head-hunters will be meeting me somewhere round here for dinner."

12. But the friends of Richard hardened their hearts against the cooking-pots of Dawkins.

13. Even the learned atheist that is called Grayling refused to partake of Tête d'agent d'assurances à la Dawkins avec pommes frites. For alas! he had his own woes.

14. Yeah, he had discovered that Brexodus was like unto the Great War, that Maysis was using the gas of mustard, that the Rees that is Mogg was literally the Kaiser, and that millions had already been slain.

15. Wherefore then should he divert himself with the lighter pastimes of the table?

16. So Richard ate alone.

To be continued.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

How social media bring people to the Catholic Church

In the news this week is Youtuber (whatever that is) Lizzie Estrella Reezay, who has announced her conversion to Catholicism. Apparently, social media are bringing in converts by the zillion: this blog will try and discover why.

Lizzie Estrella Reezay

"I owe it all to reading the Eccles blog."

Says one convert, "I feel that the Catholic Church is truly united behind Pope Francis at present. There is a general sense of well-being. He has solved the problems of China, by allowing them to appoint their own bishops, and probably the next Pope as well. He has waved his hand and made all the sex and financial scandals vanish into thin air. He has written a document on marriage and the family, Amoris Laetitia, that everyone can agree on. He has made some brilliant appointments of cardinals, by choosing the most unlikely people! What a time to be alive!"

Dawkins tweet

"I'll have the shepherd's pie, made with real shepherds." No wonder people would rather be Catholics.

Said another convert, "I like the way new Catholics are made welcome. Austen Ivereigh - surely one of the giants of Catholic journalism - has described us as neurotic, and he is spot on! Then there's Professor Doctor Doctorior Doctorissimus Massimo Faggioli, a man whose knowledge of Catholic theology since 2013 (when the subject was invented) is second to none: he has warned us against conservative converts, and quite right too. Apparently the Catholic catechism will soon contain a section explaining that we should support Marxism, and that's only fair."


"Walter Kasper is my hero. A pillar of orthodoxy and traditional teaching."

Another convert spoke of the powerful work of Father James Martin LGBTSJ in driving people into the Catholic Church. "His new book, Digging a hole, is pure genius, and explains how we should all strive to go downhill. As explained in the papal encyclicals Facilis descensus Averno and Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate, there is wide path that we can all follow, paved with good intentions, and this is the way he wants Catholics to go."

But why do people rely on social media for their spiritual nourishment? Instead, could the Catholic Church not appoint people as leaders - you know, generally-respected shepherds of the sheep, who could give guidance? We would expect such people to speak out on issues of public concern. I've even thought of a name for them - bishops!

chess bishop

A bishop, showing leadership.

No, there's no hope there, and so people are driven to social media for guidance.

A final word from another convert: "In the end, the most effective tool for Evangelisation is surely the Eccles blog. Pope Francis is a regular reader of his "How to be a good pope" advice column; Peter Hitchens has never been the same since it was pointed out to him that Queen Elizabeth I martyred Catholics; Antonio Spadaro hangs on his every word. It can't be long before these three people (and many others) come out as Catholics." He's right, you know.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Snopes fact-checks the Eccles blog

CLAIM:, the left-wing fact-checking site, motto: "Don't believe what they say about Obama, but do believe what they say about Trump," recently investigated the truth of a piece on the sometimes spiritually-nourishing satirical site "The Babylon Bee" (which is basically like the "Onion" but occasionally quite clever).


Snopes decided that the BB piece was Fake News, and, as a result, Facebook decided to threaten Mr Bee with sanctions. Apparently, some morons actually believed that a certain BB article was factual.

We have now received the Snopes verdict on various other claims put forward on this blog, and the news is grim.

CLAIM: 2+2=5.


ORIGIN: Fr Antonio Spadaro, a bosom pal of Pope Francis, tweeted the following: "Theology is not #Mathematics. 2+2 in #Theology can make 5. Because it has to do with #God and real #life of #people..."

So far this teaching has not been confirmed to be infallible, magisterial, and part of the Catholic Deposit of Faith. Snopes consulted several well-known brilliant people, including Stephen Hawking, Mary Beard, Stephen Fry, and Richard Dawkins, and - although most of them admitted that they didn't know much about real life - they agreed unanimously that 2+2=4. Indeed, this fact was apparently known to the ancient Greeks ("Pythagoras's Theorem"), although some claim that the discovery was first made by the Babylonians or even the ancients in India.

Anyway, although Snopes wouldn't approve of him, G.K. Chesterton made a similar pentaphobic comment:

Snopes also wouldn't approve of the self-evident observation that a person born male remains male for the rest of his life, whatever drugs and surgery he uses to support his delusion that he is really female. Let's move on.

CLAIM: The Pope is Catholic.



ORIGIN: On the one hand, some people would say that by definition Pope Francis, personally appointed by the Holy Spirit (with a little help from the St Gallen Mafia), cannot be other than Catholic. On the other hand, the old chap is not known for asserting Catholic teaching, preferring to make muddled statements that can be intepreted in several ways, and usually are. Still, any definition of "Catholic" that includes Fr James Martin, Nancy Pelosi, Austen Ivereigh, and Tina Beattie must definitely include Jorge Bergoglio.

To please Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Cardinal Zen forgets the problems of China, and reacts to the Snopes verdict with joy.

CLAIM: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau believes he is a teapot.


ORIGIN: This claim appeared on the Eccles blog as part of a totally serious article on the problems faced by people who self-identify as teapots and wish to transition to a full teapotic lifestyle. Justin Trudeau is well known to be totally insane (this is a charitable way of saying that he is the second most evil world leader around at the moment, and is challenging Kim Jong-un strongly for first place), and thus anything is possible. However, although little Justin pushes abortion and same-sex marriage for all he's worth, his aim is to be a DESPOT not a TEAPOT.

"I'm a little despot, short and stout..."