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.


  1. Is Tah Moly your Mexican-American third cousin? This just in: St Francis II has canonized himself. Guy McClung, Texas

  2. A carnival like this should go on for a thousand years!

  3. I heard that Benedict texted his reply, ROTFL, which the Vatican edited as Really Omniscient Theology by Francis - Laudable. The rest of Benedict's text was LOL. POC. (C=coprophilia but the letter "C" was blurred).

  4. Oh, if only Pope Benedict had opened the booklettes ! He could have channeled his inner Danish theologian ! "Why, these pages have no writing at all !". Not jot ! Not a tittle !

    C'mon ! A series entitle "The Thoughts of Chairman, er, Vicar Frank as told by The Holy Spirit". Ghost written to be sure, but nevertheless...

    Titles such as:
    1. "Why theology - how I learned to stop worrying and embrace ambiguity"
    2. "Doctrine - 583 uses for the CCC"
    3. "The necessity of self-determination for the fulfilled conscience"
    4. "Communication models employing scatology and the deaf ear to describe empty mailboxes and unreceived messages"
    5. "Sacramental promotion of unions just like marriage"
    6. "Towards a homogenous liturgy"
    7. "Retirement: it's not about me, it's all for you"
    8. "Hagen lio -healing the antiquity obsession of youth"
    9. "Rapprochement with tyrannical regimes: removing the stigma from secular appointments"
    10. "Sacramental ecumenism with the Mormons based upon the Lutheran model"
    11. "My way is narrow: guidelines for local autonomy"
    12. "Mathematics and Theology, approaching arithmetic"

  5. The Chinese are asking all Catholics to come and get their free copies of Chairman Frank's Little White Books. Reviews are welcome and will be printed in a book called "The View From Under The Bus".

  6. P. Benedict's publicized letter: Pope Francis, I thank you for your liberating words.
    What Benedict really said: Pope Francis, I thank you for letting me out of the attic.